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A day in the life: Caoileann Murphy, Teagasc Researcher

A day in the life: Caoileann Murphy, Teagasc Researcher

Caoileann Murphy began working with Teagasc in March 2021. A Day in the Life... video tells how she became fascinated with nutrition about age eight when she picked up a healthy eating leaflet in the waiting room of the dentist surgery. Caoileann said "That was it, I was hooked". Find out more

Hi, my name is Caoileann Murphy and I began working with Teagasc in March 2021. I became fascinated with nutrition about age eight when I picked up a healthy eating leaflet in the waiting room of the dentist surgery. That was it, I was hooked.

However, at the time I didn’t know I could actually have a career in nutrition. I had always thought I would be a dentist (obviously dentist surgeries had a big impact on me!) But after 2 weeks of transition year work experience with the dentist and a range of other health care professions I realised that dietetics was the one for me.

How I got to where I am and what I do

I trained as a dietitian in DIT (now TU Dublin) and afterwards worked for a 8 months as a clinical dietitian in a hospital providing nutrition support and dietary advice to patients.

After that I moved to the UK to do an MSc in Sport and Exercise Nutrition in Loughborough University. I’ve always had a passion for exercise, especially endurance sports, so it was a great way to combine my interests. In my MSc I learned about how nutrition can affect how well our bodies adapt to exercise training and how it can improve our sports performance. One of the areas I was really interested in was how the protein we eat (found in foods like milk, eggs, meat, fish, beans and lentils) can affect how much muscle and strength we gain in response to resistance training. An opportunity came up to do a PhD in that area so I headed over to McMaster University in Canada for four years. There I ran research studies looking at the effect of protein intake and resistance exercise on rates of muscle building in older adults. This is an important research area as we begin to losing muscle and strength around the age of forty. If muscle mass and strength become too low it can increase our risk of physical disability and falls as we get older.

After my PhD I moved back to Dublin and did my first postdoctoral fellowship in UCD. There I continued investigating nutritional strategies to slow the loss of muscle mass and strength in older adults, this time examining the effect of fish oil as well as protein. After my UCD postdoc I was lucky enough to be awarded a Teagasc Research Leaders 2025 Fellowship which brought me to Teagasc to work with the wonderful Dr. Sinead McCarthy. Now my research explores whether nutrients found in fruit and vegetables may play a role in slowing the loss of muscle and bone that occurs with ageing. A further aspect of our research involves investigating older adults’ nutritional knowledge and their attitudes to food products that have been reformulated to deliver enhanced health benefits. We are collaborating with researchers in TCD and Australia, and I am due to head over to Melbourne in March 2022 for 18 months to conduct one of our studies.

You can view Caoileann’s ‘A day in the Life’ video below which also features Sinead McCarthy, Teagasc Research Officer, as part of Science Week 2021 at Teagasc. Sinéad and Caoileann will give you 5 good reasons you should take (at least!!) 5 portions a day of fruit and veg, and explain exactly why they are so good for our health.

You can also watch the events back here or visit Teagasc’s youtube channel if you want to watch more ‘A day in the Life’ videos here 

Teagasc Daily will feature one of these 'A day in the life' videos on Tuesdays over the next few Tuesdays.

If you liked this article you might like to read How to eat and exercise your way to healthy ageing also by Teagasc Researchers Caoileann Murphy and Sinéad McCarthy

You can now listen to this article as a podcast episode on RTÉ Brainstorm

Find out more here about Teagasc Food

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