Dr Matthew O’Connell

Dr Matthew O'Connell

Employed by Trinity College Dublin

Mentors: Professor Rose-Anne Kenny with Professors Richard Reilly, Cathal Walsh and Peter Passmore


Dr Matthew O’Connell completed a PhD at the University of Manchester in November 2011 on Frailty and anabolic hormones in ageing men, which involved work on the observational European Male Ageing Study (EMAS) and a clinical trial of testosterone therapy in frail men. Matthew held a post-doctoral position in Manchester looking at longitudinal changes in sex hormone levels in the EMAS. He joined The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) as a Research Fellow in January 2012 and became chair of the frailty research group and theme lead on physiological ageing, frailty and functional decline, designing and piloting studies of new health assessments for Wave 3. Matthew also had lead responsibility for all Computer Aided Personal Interview (CAPI) design. He has held grants from the Health Research Board (2010-15) and CARDI (2013-14) and was first author of six journal articles.

Matthew’s Beeson-sponsored CARDI Fellowship will allow him to explore novel physiological determinants of functional decline across Ireland, drawing on survey findings and health assessments from both TILDA and its equivalent, NICOLA (Northern Ireland Cohort Longitudinal Study of Ageing). He will use these data to quantify four-year change in key functional measures, particularly muscle strength and mobility and identify and validate physiological markers related to falls, disability and mortality. Mark will then assess the relationship between the markers and functional performance; explore potential mechanisms linking neuro-cardiovascular behaviour and functional decline at the level of the brain; and compare health of older people north and south.

Insights from the study will directly inform clinical practice in falls and blackout clinics. Data on patterns of decline and cross-national variations in health will assist government efforts north and south to promote healthy ageing. Matthew will specifically work with clinical colleagues to translate findings into opportunities for screening and intervention, and with colleagues on bio-engineering to explore opportunities for innovation and technology development.