Profile: Adrian Corcoran
Adrian has almost finished his PhD, which he is doing in NUI Galway’s microbiology department.
Bacteria express polysaccharides, or complex sugars, on their surface that work as camouflage, disguising them so they can fool the body’s immune system and bypass it.
Adrian’s project involves characterising different strains of bacteria and the different polysaccharides they produce. He looked at biofilms, which are thin layers of bacteria, often seen on water as pond scum. Similar biofilms also form in human hosts, on prosthetic devices that are implanted in the body for long periods of time – pacemakers, shunts and IV lines, for example.
Their importance lies in antibiotic resistance, where drugs cannot get through the biofilms formed in the event of a bacterial infection. Adrian’s project involves characterising the various polysaccharides involved in bacteria causing infection.
Adrian always knew he wanted to work in microbiology, since he first studied science in secondary school. He took all three science subjects for his Leaving Cert and studied general science in Trinity College, specialising in Microbiology in his 3rd year.
Adrian’s hobby is web design, which acts as a sideline to his academic research. His first year maths course in Trinity incorporated a ‘little bit’ of web design, which piqued his interest. He is mainly self-taught, however. He designs websites for NUI Galway and also various companies and really loves doing it, as it is a complete contrast to his work in the lab.
As regards sport, he says he plays a little bit of soccer, but definitely doesn’t regard it as his main hobby.