Meet the team

Dr. McCoy currently leads a research team of 2 post-doctoral researchers and 3 PhD candidates

Dr. Claire McCoy    Research Head & Immunology lecturer   E:

Dr. Claire McCoy

Research Head & Immunology lecturer


Dr. Jennifer Dowling    Senior Post-Doctoral Researcher & Honorary Lecturer   E:

Dr. Jennifer Dowling

Senior Post-Doctoral Researcher & Honorary Lecturer


Dr. Chiara De Santi    Senior Post-Doctoral Researcher   E:

Dr. Chiara De Santi

Senior Post-Doctoral Researcher


Remsha Afzal    2nd year PhD candidate   E:

Remsha Afzal

2nd year PhD candidate


Conor Duffy    2nd year PhD candidate   E:

Conor Duffy

2nd year PhD candidate


Frances Nally    1st year PhD candidate   E:

Frances Nally

1st year PhD candidate


Dr Claire McCoy graduated in Biochemistry from Trinity College Dublin and completed her PhD at the University of Dundee, Scotland in 2006. Her first postdoctoral position in Innate Immunology was completed at Trinity College Dublin, during which time she was awarded a prestigious Marie Curie International Fellowship. She joined the Hudson Institute, Melbourne as a Research Fellow in 2010 and obtained a New Investigator Project Grant from the NHMRC to continue her work investigating the role of microRNAs in Inflammatory diseases. Claire joined RCSI as the Immunology lecturer in August 2016, where she now leads the growing microRNA Inflammation research group. Claire was the recent recipient of an SFI Future Research Leader's award presented by President Higgins in January 2018.


Dr. Jennifer Dowling obtained a BSc in Biotechnology from Dublin City University and was awarded a postgraduate scholarship from the Irish Research Council to complete a PhD in Immunology at the University in 2009. Jennifer’s first postdoctoral position was in Professor Luke O’Neill’s lab in Trinity College Dublin. Subsequently, Jennifer was recruited to the Centre for Innate Immunity and Infectious Diseases at the Hudson Institute of Medical Research, Melbourne, Australia (2013). Here Jennifer secured both national and philanthropic funding to support her work (Angior Family Foundation; MS Australia). Jennifer specializes in inflammation and immune signalling pathways and the regulation of the potent inflammatory complex, the Inflammasome. Her research in Dr. McCoy’s lab focuses on elucidating the pathways regulating the inflammatory status of immune cells in diseases models including multiple sclerosis (MS) and hypoxic brain injury.


Dr. Chiara De Santi graduated magna cum laude in her bachelors and masters degree in molecular biology at the University of Pisa. She then was recruited as a PhD researcher in molecular medicine at the University of Sienna, which she completed in 2016. Dr. De Santi’s first post-doctoral position was in the lab of Prof. Catherine Greene in RCSI. Here she developed and specialized in techniques investigating microRNA regulation and expression. She has since joined Dr. McCoy’s lab (2018) and was awarded the highly competitive Irish Research Council post-doctoral funding to develop new microRNA therapeutics for multiple sclerosis.


Remsha graduated with a B.A. Honors degree in Human Genetics from Trinity College Dublin (TCD). Her current PhD project in Dr. McCoy’s lab investigates the impact of the arginine pathway in macrophage metabolism and mitochondrial associated functions. Since starting her PhD, Remsha has already presented her data at both national and international events. For two such events- the 2018 UCD Molecular and Computational Biology Symposium and the 2019 Northern Ireland MS Research Network- she was an invited speaker and went on to be awarded best presentation prize. She has also actively taken part in science outreach events such as FameLab (where she was the RCSI heats winner) and ‘I am a scientist- Get me out of here’ competition,  where she placed as the Genes Zone finalist and the zone’s most active participant. She was awarded the RCSI International Secondment Award in 2019 to pursue a 3-month research placement at UHB, Basel.


Conor carried out his undergraduate studies in University College Dublin, where he graduated with a first-class honors degree in Neuroscience in 2017. During his undergraduate course, he was awarded the prestigious Wellcome Trust studentship to carry out a summer research project. His current PhD project involves investigating the impact of miR155 in macrophage extracellular vesicles in the context of neuroinflammation, which is supported by the the Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholarship Programme of the Irish Research Council. Since starting in the McCoy Lab Conor has received numerous awards, including the 2018 RCSI International Secondment Award that supported a research placement in Queen’s University Belfast and the Best Poster Presentation prize at the 2018 Northern Ireland MS Research Network Symposium.


Frances completed her undergraduate studies in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in University College Dublin, graduating top of her class with a first class honors degree in 2018.  In addition, she was awarded a Naughton Scholarship to travel to the University of Notre Dame, Indiana , to participate in the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) summer programme in 2017. She is currently in her first year of PhD in Dr. Claire McCoy's Lab.  Her PhD project will investigate the nanomodulation of microRNA's in macrophages.