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About Dr Tracey O'Donovan

   Dr Tracey O'Donovan

Biography Summary

Tracey is currently a senior research fellow, involved in preclinical evaluation of a new drug strategy to combat drug resistance and recurrence of poor prognosis cancers. Tracey has always had a desire to work within a teaching/research environment, with a particular interest in cancer research. She has recently published a number of research articles which validates this new approach to treating resistant cancers.

Theme / Team


Cancer type(s)

Lung cancer, Leukaemia, Ovarian cancer, Breast cancer, Colorectal cancer, Oesophageal cancer


+353 (0) 21 420 5704

Email Address


Biography Detailed

Tracey O’Donovan graduated from University College Cork with a BSc. in Physiology. Following graduation she spent a year working as a research assistant in the Cellular Physiology Research Unit in UCC. Following this Tracey began a PhD in the Cork Cancer Research Centre, which focused on investigating the mechanisms of chemo-resistance in oesophageal cancer. The results of this work are published in the journal ‘Autophagy’ (Autophagy 7:6, 1-16; June 2011). Other aspects of this work are on-going, one of which involves a set of novel genes which were identified in oesophageal cancer cells and are currently being tested for both predictive value and potential as novel drug targets, the results of part of which were recently published in BMC cancer “LC3B globular structures correlate with survival in esophageal adenocarcinoma” (BMC Cancer August 2015).


Tracey is currently continuing this work as a senior research fellow within the Cork Cancer Research Centre.  Her work is focused on implementing a new drug strategy to combat drug resistance and disease recurrence of poor prognosis cancers, and preclinical data would strongly suggest that new drug treatments can improve chemotherapeutic regimes, reduce resistance and recurrence of cancer. This work has allowed for the establishment of a Phase I Clinical Trial, which is ICORG approved and currently under review by the IMB. This trial is founded on the work which is documented in “Lithium modulates autophagy in oesophageal and colorectal cancer cells and enhances the efficacy of therapeutic agents in vitro and in vivo” (published August 2015 in PLoS One 6;10 (8)) and other ongoing work on the advancements of new combination regimes from preclinical models.  Tracey has presented this work at various meeting, national and international, and was awarded the gold medal at the Translational Health Research Conference for same. 


When not focused on the mysteries of a cancer cell, Tracey enjoys running, cycling and playing golf. She spends most of her free time on a bicycle taking in the scenery on the by roads of west cork, taking part in local charity associated events.