Aoife Murtagh

Aoife studied Health Science with Nutrition in Athlone Institute of Technology and is a Registered Associate Nutritionist (ANutr). Aoife’s interest in research sparked while conducting her final year project as part of her undergraduate degree. Nutrition, the gastrointestinal tract and its diseases or related disorders have always been a fascinating subject area to Aoife, which led her to take the opportunity when it arose to do research involving nutrition and the gastrointestinal tract – specifically Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Aoife is currently in the 3rd year of her PhD.


Development of Multifunctional Hydrogels for the Delivery of Drugs and Nutrients for Patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Project About

The main aim of this project is to research, design and develop a ‘smart’ drug and nutrient delivery system that has the potential to improve the therapeutic benefits for patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Additionally, the dietary beliefs, practices and behaviours of adults with IBD in Ireland have been investigated to better understand the food related behaviours and patient perceptions of IBD.

Practical Impact of Project

IBD is a chronic disease with no cure and while there are a range of treatment and management options, they often result in unpleasant side effects which can impact in health and lead to non-adherance among patients and for some the treatments do not work. This research has the potential to improve the therapeutic efficacy, reduce drug side effects and deliver a unique approach to the management of IBD.

Major finding of project

A cross sectional survey study involving 475 adults with IBD has highlighted that diet plays an important role for many adults with IBD in Ireland. Many adults restrict or modify their diet in the hope of preventing a relapse of their IBD and for many their IBD has negatively affected their appetite and pleasure in eating. The findings reiterate the importance of patient education and support.



Dr. Patricia Heavey and Prof. Clement Higginbotham