At Nutrition Research Centre Ireland, the WIT research centre where she completed her PhD, Rachel continues to research as well as supervise PhD students
Dr Rachel Moran, who went to Bryant High School (Arkansas) in the United States completed a BSc (Hons) Biotechnology with Quality Management before going on to study a PhD at WIT.
Current job title and employer
Postdoctoral researcher at the Nutrition Research Centre Ireland (WIT)
Path into research
I was very interested in research during my undergraduate degree (BSc. (Hons) Biotechnology with Quality Management) in WIT and the natural progression was to continue my education. I heard about this particular research topic through a college friend and was successful in my application.
My PhD title
Non-dietary determinants and correlates of plasma concentrations of lutein and zeaxanthin in an Irish population
Related academic school/research centre at WIT
Nutrition Research Centre Ireland
Professor John Nolan
Professor Stephen Beatty
WIT PhD Scholarship Programme
About my PhD in layman’s terms
The macula is a specialised area of the retina that mediates central and colour vision. Three dietary carotenoids, lutein (L), zeaxanthin (Z) and meso-zeaxanthin (MZ), accumulate in the macula, where they are collectively referred to as macular pigment (MP). Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a disease of the macula that, in its advanced stage, results in a loss of central vision. The light-filtering and antioxidant properties of MP render this pigment important for optimising visual function and protecting against AMD. The current investigation is the first study to report plasma concentrations of L and Z in a large representative sample of the Irish population. The focus of this study was to quantify and assess plasma concentrations of L and Z, and investigate their association with the prevalence of AMD, and non-dietary determinants of these carotenoids.
Making a difference
A noteworthy message from my thesis is the appropriateness of introducing a screening programme for non-advanced AMD in the Republic of Ireland. It is also equally important that those with this condition avail of standard of care and reduce their risk of disease progression and visual loss by the appropriate use of antioxidant supplements.
How has your PhD influenced your career path?
Because of my background and the skills I obtained during my PhD, I was offered a position at the same centre shortly after submitting my thesis. At the Nutrition Research Centre Ireland, I continue to research in the area of nutrition as well as supervise PhD students.
25 years of PhD graduates was marked at Waterford Institute of Technology in 2018. The institute was one the first of Ireland's regional technical colleges to award PhDs in 1993.