Today, 8th March 2024 is International Women’s Day, a day where we celebrate the achievements of our female research team at INFANT. All of whom play a key role in transforming the future of maternal and child healthcare.

Led by Director Professor Geraldine Boylan, and hosted at University College Cork, INFANT is the hub of world-leading research and innovation, working to provide better outcomes in pregnancy, birth and early childhood. Since 2013, INFANT has established a national and international reputation for leadership in their research domains and have a strong track record of clinical innovation with year-on-year growth of active research projects, spinouts, and funding.

The team comprises of a strong diverse multidisciplinary team of over 110+ staff and students including PIs, clinicians, physiotherapists, dieticians, pharmacists, psychologists, research scientists and engineers and administrators.

Here is a glimpse into some of our female research team leading the way in maternal and child health research at INFANT;

  • INFANT, Director Prof Geraldine Boylan

Geraldine is Professor of Neonatal Physiology, Department of Paediatrics & Child Health, University College Cork, Ireland and Director of the INFANT Research Centre. She leads the Neonatal Brain Research Group at the INFANT centre – a multidisciplinary research team focused on neuromonitoring for infants in the neonatal intensive care unit, particularly for seizure detection and the early diagnosis of brain injury.

  • Principal Investigator (PI) Prof Keelin O’Donoghue 

Keelin is a Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, UCC; Consultant Obstetrician and Maternal-Fetal Medicine Sub-Specialist, CUMH and she is also the Clinical Lead for Obstetric Research at INFANT and heads up the Pregnancy Loss Research Group. Her research interests include pregnancy and infant loss, perinatal mortality audit and reviews, multiple pregnancy, prenatal screening and diagnosis, and fetal anomaly. She works closely with many stakeholders to increase awareness of pregnancy loss, to encourage more effective services/supports within the health care system and to ensure this research leads to the implementation of healthcare policy changes.

  • Lead Investigator Dr Elaine McCarthy 

Dr Elaine McCarthy is a Lecturer in Nutrition at the School of Food and Nutritional Sciences, UCC and Lead Investigator at INFANT. Elaine’s research to date has been mainly in the field of maternal and paediatric nutrition, with a particular interest in the role of micronutrients, especially iron, in brain function and development in term and preterm infants. Her other main interest has been in the area of nutritional biomarker research, focusing on nutritional status diagnostic criteria and screening in vulnerable population groups.

  • Co- Investigator Dr Ann-Marie Brennan 

Dr. Ann-Marie Brennan is a Clinical Specialist Neonatal Dietitian at Cork University Maternity Hospital with over 20 years experience with a passion for excellent research that impacts patient outcomes. Dr Brennan is a Co-Investigator at INFANT and an Adjunct Senior Lecturer at the School of Food and Nutritional Sciences, UCC. As part of her research in preterm nutrition, she developed PremSmart, a national award winning intravenous nutrition system for preterm infants which has been adopted as the national model of care. This innovation in preterm nutrition has streamlined clinical care and is delivering improved clinical and economic outcomes, and equity of care across the health service.

Spin-Out Companies:

  • Spin-out Co-founder Prof Deirdre Murray

Deirdre is Professor of Paediatrics, UCC, Chair in Early Brain Injury and Cerebral Palsy, Consultant Paediatrician and Paediatric Research Lead at INFANT. For almost two decades Deirdre’s research has focused on early brain injury and on finding better ways to predict outcome following early brain injury. She is CEO of Liltoda, an INFANT spin-out company that is harnessing the power of innovative gaming technology to assess cognitive function in young children.

Post Doc:

  • Post Doctoral Researcher – Dr Marita Hennessy

Marita Hennessy is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Pregnancy Loss Research Group. She has worked on the Health Research Board-funded RE:CURRENT study, the follow-on RE:CURRENT Knowledge Translation Award, and a range of projects focusing on pregnancy loss/bereavement care and knowledge translation. Marita recently commenced her Irish Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship which involves the development and piloting of a psychosocial support intervention for maternity care staff following an adverse event. Marita is also an Associate Editor of Health Promotion International.


  • PhD Student: Elizabeth Bodunde

Elizabeth is pursuing a PhD in Population Health and Health Service Research (PHHSR) at the School of Public Health, UCC and INFANT and is funded by the HRB SPHERE programme. Her research focuses on the long-term risk of maternal mental health outcomes after adverse pregnancy and birth complications.

  • PhD Student: Kimia Rezaei

Kimia is completing her PhD at the Dept of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, UCC and INFANT. Her research aims to measure the non-linear relationship between heart rate variability and seizures by working on infant EEG and ECG signals. In the end, all these features impact on Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) are examined. For this purpose, she attempts to develop an accurate decision support system which will help clinicians in their diagnosis and treatment in early stages, also giving them an insight for preventing these issues.

Operations and Research Support:

  • Biobank Manager – Darina Sheehan

Darina is the Biobank Manager at INFANT and has responsibility and oversight for all the precious samples that have been collected by INFANT research studies from mothers and babies over the years. Darina organises the retrieval of samples from the Biobank for PI’s and helps support the setting up of collaborations with other partners wishing to work with our samples.

  • Quality Officer – Dr Nimisha Vinod

Nimisha is the Quality Officer at INFANT, working in the area of quality and regulatory compliance. Her duties include quality control over ongoing studies and study-related documents ensuring that they adhere to the highest standards and remain in alignment with regulatory requirements, trial monitoring tasks to identify and address any discrepancies or deviations, ensuring the integrity of research projects.

  • Research Psychologist – Laura O’Sullivan

Laura is a Research Support Officer at the Early Life Lab at the INFANT centre. Her main role is as a research psychologist on the Horizon EU project, ETHEREAL. The main aim of this study is to develop personalised solutions for autistic adolescents to take preventive actions against the emergence of mental health conditions. She also administers neurodevelopmental follow-up assessments for studies ongoing at the INFANT centre.

  • Senior Physiotherapist in Neonatology – Colette Lynch

Colette is a Research Physiotherapist in the INFANT study of “Early detection and intervention for cerebral palsy in Ireland”.  The main aim of this study is to reduce the age of diagnosis of cerebral palsy in high-risk children. Colette is involved in assessing children while in the neonatal unit and in high risk out-patient clinics using specific clinical exams that have been shown to be more accurate in predicting CP. This is a multicentre study in conjunction with the Cerebral Palsy Foundation.

These diverse roles are just a glimpse into the wider team at INFANT, all striving to provide better outcomes in pregnancy, birth and early childhood.