Researcher to collaborate on bone health project with Irish Injured Jockeys

Health Science
Pictured are Dr SarahJane Cullen and Arthur Dunne

Pictured are Dr SarahJane Cullen and Arthur Dunne

The enterprise-focused research award was announced by Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD

On 17 August 2020 an investment of €4.3 million in 50 enterprise-focused research awards under the Irish Research Council’s Enterprise Partnership Scheme was announced. One of these is researcher Arthur Dunne whose project is in collaboration with enterprise partner Irish Injured Jockeys. Dunne is one of two researchers at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) have had success in creating new linkages to enterprises through Irish Research Council funding. 

The development and implementation of novel strategies to promote bone health and body composition for the safety and well-being of jockeys research is in partnership with the Irish Injured Jockey Fund. Arthur Dunne will work under the supervision of Dr SarahJane Cullen (WIT), Dr Giles Warrington (UL) and Dr Michael Harrison (WIT). This work aims to develop and implement novel strategies to promote bone health and body composition for the safety and well-being of jockeys.

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD announced on 17 August 2020 an investment of €4.3 million in 50 enterprise-focused research awards under the Irish Research Council’s Enterprise Partnership Scheme.

Long-term bone health

Jockeys are faced with many challenges during a race-riding career including food and fluid restriction, intense working schedules and long competitive seasons. This demanding lifestyle can lead to impaired bone health thus increasing the risk of bone fracture as well as adverse health implications later in life such as osteoporosis. Therefore, dietary and exercise strategies will be investigated to improve the long-term bone health in jockeys.

Dr SarahJane Cullen, supervisor in Waterford Institute of Technology stated, “Arthur has been working hard on this project for two years now and to receive the IRC scholarship with Irish Injured Jockeys supporting will really take his research to the next level and allow full integration into the industry to help the jockeys. Finding strategies to optimise bone health within this unique athletic population will be invaluable to aid jockey health and minimise time away from racing as a result of a fall. It is a fantastic opportunity for Arthur and well deserved.”

Michael Higgins (Irish Injured Jockeys) added, “As co-funders of the scholarship we are delighted that Arthur has been chosen for this important research project. The scholarship will advance research into jockey health and performance in Ireland, and the area of Bone Health, which has great potential to improve safety and well-being of jockeys. We wish Arthur well with his work.”

Unique issues

In his scholarship application Dunne outlined the unique health and performance issues for jockeys including restricted food and fluid intake and long competitive seasons. These challenges present an increased risk of bone fracture and potentially adverse health implications later in life such as osteoporosis. Bone health is of particular interest as it can become compromised when the body is given insufficient energy for growth and development. Therefore, the aim of the project is to develop and implement novel strategies to promote bone health and body composition for the safety and well-being of jockeys.

Arthur explains why he applied for the IRC Enterprise Partnership scheme; “This scholarship will help to promote access to professional opportunities beyond the academic sector particularly as the research project has a direct influence on industry guidelines and policy development".

His ambition is to pursue a career in applied research by disseminating the latest research and providing practical support to those working in the horse racing industry and other sporting disciplines," he adds.

"WIT provides an excellent environment for conducting research with links to the Jockey Research Programme in Ireland and international researchers of the horse-racing industry".


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