Meet the Team
The Irish Dystonia Research Group is multidisciplinary comprising neurologists, engineers, and other scientists working together to discover genes that cause adult onset primary torsion dystonia, to understand the mechanisms of this form of dystonia, and ultimately to develop new treatments.
Please click on the each of the team members to find out more about the people who make up the Irish Dystonia Research Group
Prof. Michael Hutchinson
Prof. Michael Hutchinson
Newman Clinical Research Professor at University College Dublin, Ireland
I have been a Consultant Neurologist for 35 years, most of that time as a full-time clinician with research as an add-on activity. My main research interest was multiple sclerosis, but since starting a botulinum toxin clinic in 1988, I have been increasingly interested in adult onset primary torsion dystonia (AOPTD). I now do 20% clinical out-patient work and 80% research, mainly in dystonia. We have a very active multi-disciplinary group with a research network involving, among others, Laurie Ozelius in New York and Mark Edwards in London. Our work focuses on temporal discrimination as a mediational endophenotype, and using this to elucidate the pathogenic mechanisms of AOPTD and eventually gene finding. I am proud of my three publications in the New England Journal of Medicine, our ability to network internationally, and the increasing recognition, by funding and invited lectures, of our work in dystonia. We have built up a large bank of clinically well-characterized DNA samples from our sporadic AOPTD population and multiplex AOPTD families and are willing to share this resource for future multi-centre studies.
Dr. Rebecca Beck
Dr. Rebecca Beck
Research Fellow and Project Manager for the Dystonia Research Group
Dr Rebecca Beck is a Research Fellow and Project Manager for the Dystonia Research Group. She keenly enjoys working with this interdisciplinary team to further the knowledge and understanding of dystonia through rigorous research.
Dr Beck attained her B.Eng. with first class honors in Electronic Engineering in 1999 from University College Dublin. In 2004 she obtained her Ph.D. also from University College Dublin, for her thesis ‘Conduction Velocity Estimation from the Surface Electromyogram’.
A significant part of the preparation for her Ph.D. was conducted in the Department of Clinical Neurophysiology, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, The Netherlands. She has also worked as a visiting scientist at The Newman Laboratory of Biomechanics and Rehabilitation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts and the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Boston, USA; as a biomedical researcher at The Signal Processing Institute, Ecole Polytechnique Fédéral de Lausanne, Switzerland; and in The National Rehabilitation Hospital, Dublin.
While at the National Rehabilitation Hospital, Dublin, Dr Beck secured funding for a range of projects addressing clinical needs, including access to assistive technologies for patients and staff. Dr Beck secured an initial grant of €490,677 (and subsequently over €400,000 additional funding) enabling her to establish and manage ‘Try-It.ie’, a multi-awarding winning on-line library of assistive technology which served 30 disability agencies at nearly 100 locations throughout Ireland (2007-2011).
PhD Candidate, Neurological Engineering, Trinity College Dublin
Brendan Quinlivan has a B.A, B.A.I in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, and is currently in the final stages of his PhD in Neurological Engineering. His PhD research has a strong focus on experimental design, data analytics, digital signal processing and statistical modelling. Previous research and work experience includes characterization of gait abnormalities and “Freezing of Gait” in Parkinson’s disease in collaboration with the Department of Electronic Engineering and the School of Computer Science and Statistics, Trinity College Dublin.
Brendan is currently involved in several projects focusing on neural and behavioural abnormalities in adult onset primary torsion dystonia. The overarching aim of his research is assessing Superior Colliculus function in cervical dystonia, to better understand the neural mechanisms involved in the disorder and thereby facilitate more effective treatments for patients. To this end, he works with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), the electroencephalogram (EEG), virtual reality and movement tracking technologies.
Brendan recently completed a secondment to the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, USA, within the Moran lab; a department dedicated to developing new neuroimaging methodologies and investigating the neurobiology of ageing. While there he employed a novel approach to dynamic causal modelling (DCM), a data-driven statistical analysis technique for understanding the effective connectivity of neural regions derived from time series fMRI images.
Prof. Richard Reilly
Prof. Richard Reilly
Professor of Neural Engineering, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland.
Professor of Neural Engineering at Trinity College, a joint position between the School of Medicine and School of Engineering. A Principal Investigator at the Trinity Centre for Bioengineering and at the Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience. He is Program Director of Education in Bioengineering at Trinity College. His research focuses on the processing of signals that diagnose the human physiological and cognitive state: non-invasive electrophysical biomarkers for cognitive function, patient-oriented neurodiagnostics methods, neural prosthetics and therapeutic neuromodulation devices.
He is a member of the Royal Irish Academy and a Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. He is currently the President of the European Society of Engineering and Medicine, a member of the Board of Tallaght Hospital in Dublin and a member of the Health Products Regulatory Authority of Ireland’s Advisory Committee on Medical Device.
In 2004, he was awarded a US Fulbright Award for research collaboration into multisensory integration with the Nathan Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research, New York. He is a former Silvanus P. Thompson International Lecturer for the Institution of Engineering and Technology. He has established two companies based on his research activities. Professor Reilly received his BE degree in Electronic Engineering, an MEngSc and a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from University College Dublin. He has authored and co-authored 346 publications in peer reviewed scientific journals and conferences.
Dr. Eavan McGovern
Dr. Eavan McGovern
Newman Research Fellow & Specialist Medical Registrar in Neurology
Eavan Mc Govern is a Newman Research Fellow with the Dystonia Research Group under the guidance of Professor Michael Hutchinson, Professor Richard Reilly and Dr Sean O’ Riordan. She is in her second year of a three-year PhD programme. The fellowship program involves part-time clinical work and full-time research work in the area of adult onset primary torsion dystonia. The research work employs experimental tools such as the temporal discrimination threshold and functional magnetic resonance imaging to uncover potential causes of adult-onset dystonia. She has completed her penultimate year on the National Neurology Specialist training scheme and is a junior director on the Irish Institute of Clinical Neuroscience Board. Her main area of interest is movement disorders. During her training she has had a varied and gainful exposure to movement disorders under the tutorship of Professor Michael Hutchinson, Professor Dan Healy, Professor Tim Lynch, Dr Tim Counihan & Dr Sean O Riordan. On completion of her PhD program, she plans to complete a clinical fellowship with Professor Marie Vidailhet, Dr Emmanuel Flamand-Roze and the Movement Disorder Team at the Pitié-Salpêtrière, Paris.
IRC Postgraduate Scholar
Shruti Narasimham is an IRC Postgraduate Scholar, pursuing her PhD at Trinity College Dublin. She has been working closely with the Dystonia Research Group since 2014, and has had the opportunity to investigate brain structure and function using novel methods. Before starting her PhD, she was awarded her Master’s in Biomedical Engineering with the Erasmus Mundus’ CEMACUBE Scholarship program. This program enabled her to live and study in Germany and in Ireland. While in Germany, she worked in the Aachen Institute of Computational Engineering Science, where she was programming to analyse gene data. Shruti completed her undergraduate degree in India, after which she pursued an internship at GE Medical Systems and worked on medical imaging and signal processing projects.
Shruti has always found the medical device and diagnostic sector particularly thrilling due to the fast paced technological developments and high standards of consumer benefit and satisfaction. Simultaneously she finds the complexity of the brain perplexing. Many of today’s disturbing disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Dystonia have neurological roots, yet diagnosis and intervention have not yet been coupled to the advances in computing and data processing. Shruti seeks to amalgamate further research with the energy of the fast growing medical device sector after this PhD degree.
Dr. Sean O’Riordan
Dr. Sean O’Riordan
Consultant Neurologist, St. Vincent’s University Hospital, Dublin
Dr. Sean O’Riordan (MB BCh BAO, MD, FRCPI) is a Consultant Neurologist. He trained in Cork, Dublin and London before appointment to a Consultant Neurologist post in Charing Cross Hospital in 2007 and he returned to St Vincent’s Hospital in 2010. He has a specialist clinical and research interest in Movement Disorders including Dystonia.
Dr. Ines Beiser
Dr. Ines Beiser
Research Fellow bei University College Dublin, St. Vincent’s Hospital
A graduate of Albert Ludwigs-University of Freiburg /Germany, Dr. Beiser received her Licence to practise medicine in 2004. She subsequently trained in General Medicine and Neurorehabilitation in Swiss hospitals before specialising in Neurology at the University Hospital Bern/Switzerland (Inselspital). Following a period of specialist neurology training in Bern, she was a fellow in the Movement Disorders Centre in Bern under the direction of Prof. Alain Kaelin-Lang. After completing her clinical neurology training she spent a year in the Intensive Care Unit in Bern under the direction of Prof. Jukka Takala caring for patients with neurologic but also general or surgical difficulties. In 2014, she moved to Ireland to join the Dystonia Research Group to undertake a PhD at the Department of Neurology, St Vincent’s University Hospital in Dublin. Her main interests are dystonia and the therapeutic use of botulinumtoxin in dystonia and spasticity as well as deep brain stimulation.
Owen Killian is currently pursuing an MSc. in Biomedical Sciences with a specialisation in Neural Engineering at Trinity College Dublin. He is intermitting his study of Medicine at TCD in order to pursue this research. Owen was awarded a Non-Foundation Scholarship by Trinity College in 2014 based upon his academic performance.
Owen has joined the Dystonia Research Group to pursue his research interests. Specifically he is exploring the role of the Superior Colliculus using fMRI analysis techniques on data collected by the Dystonia Research Group in St. Vincent’s University Hospital and the Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience. He is also using the Oculus Rift Virtual Reality Headset to explore head movements in Dystonia and is interested in investigating specific subtypes of task-specific dystonia, particularly regarding sensory processing abnormalities and the use of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation.
Owen has previously pursued research electives in the Cleveland Clinic, USA and the National Heart and Lung Institute, London. He hopes to specialise in Neurology, upon qualifying as a doctor.