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About Dr Orla Patricia Barry

  Dr Orla Patricia Barry

Biography Summary

Dr. Orla P. Barry is a cancer cell signalling biologist. Her research is dedicated to unravelling different signalling networks that underlie the cancer disease process. In addition her group explores how signalling pathways respond to drug treatment(s) and how knowledge of the development of tumour resistance can be leveraged to develop more effective treatment strategies.

Theme / Team

Her research focuses on aberrant signalling cascades in oesophageal and renal cancer.

Cancer type(s)

Renal cancer, Oesophageal cancer


+353 (0) 21 420 5493

Email Address


Biography Detailed

Dr. Barry PhD, MA (H.Ed.) received her bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from University College Cork, Ireland. She carried out a PhD in Pharmacology at the University of Pennsylvania, USA, investigating novel mechanisms of transcellular lipid metabolism. Subsequent post-doctoral positions in the US involved the study of isoprostanes as indices of oxidant stress. Dr. Barry returned to Ireland as a Health Research Board (HRB) fellow upon the inception of the Cork Cancer Research Centre, University College Cork, Ireland. As a HRB fellow she identified novel mitogenic signalling cascades in esophagogastric micrometastatic cancer. She later joined the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, University College Cork, Ireland as a lecturer where she set up her own research group.

Dr. Barry’s area(s) of interest are how tumour signalling events drive oncogenic progression and how strategic events can be exploited to develop more effective treatment options. Her laboratory focuses on the study of different families of serine/threonine kinases that play key roles in signalling mechanisms following activation of seven-transmembrane and receptor tyrosine-kinases. In particular her group explores the role of Paks, p38 MAPKs, and PKCs which exert a variety of cellular effects including changes in proliferation, malignant transformation, cell death and differentiation. Her research has exploited the activation of p38 MAPK as well as PKC as a pro-apoptotic and anti-proliferative agent in oesophageal cancer. Re-introduction of p38 MAPK into different cancers which lack this isoform including oesophageal, renal, prostate, lung and liver has had profound effects on cancer cell proliferation and apoptosis. An important aspect of her research is to also elucidate the signalling pathways underlying the apoptotic effect of these kinases using both pharmacological and molecular experimental approaches. The identification of different kinase isoforms involved in cell proliferation and cell death in different types of cancer may have important therapeutic implications for the treatment of the disease.

In addition Dr. Barry is also exploring how epigenetic changes to the genome contribute to the progression of cancer. In particular the search for biomarkers like hyper- or hypo-methylated genes in oesophageal cancer in the context of early detection or diagnostic markers, or predicting response to treatment is an area of active research.