Dr. Rita Hickey, Teagasc Food Research Centre, Ireland

Talk Title: The impact of glycosylation on milk protein functionality 

Taco Nicolai

Dr. Rita Hickey is a senior research officer in the Food Biosciences Dept. at Teagasc Food Research Centre, Moorepark. Rita was awarded a First class honours degree in Science from UCD and successfully completed her PhD research in Teagasc in 2003. She was subsequently employed as a Research Officer by the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre (APC). Rita then worked for Abbott Diagnostics as a Process Specialist in Sligo before returning to Moorepark for her current role. Her main research interests focus on investigating the biological properties of sugars isolated from food sources. Rita was the lead PI on the FHI Infant Nutrition workpackage for Food for Health Ireland and was a funded PI on the SFI-funded Alimentary Glycobiology Research Cluster (AGRC). She is a faculty member of the APC and a major area of interest is the effect of food glycans on host-microbial interactions in the gut. For instance, milk glycoproteins can alter intestinal glycosylation, which in turn contributes to early immune development and maturation of the newborn intestinal tract. In the Hickey lab, strategies to increase the colonization of infant-associated Bifidobacteria have been extensively investigated in recent years with promising results.

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