John Dalton, professor of molecular parasitology, NUI Galway.
After a quick shower and shave, I exchange WhatsApp messages with my family over breakfast. I moved to Galway five months ago. They live in Belfast so I commute home at the weekends to see my sons Fintan and Matthew, and wife Georgina.
I leave the house with a takeaway tea which I enjoy in Salthill while looking out over Galway Bay. If it’s a nice day I walk along the prom or tune into Newstalk on the car radio.
My work involves much collaboration with scientists in other countries, for example Australia and the US, so we make good use of email to counter different time zones. My first task in the morning is to catch up on emails.
I start work on research papers and review grant applications for the Royal Society, the independent scientific academy of the UK. I also edit journals such as the
Public Library of Science Neglected Tropical Diseases.
I head for a coffee before meeting my senior team in the laboratory where we go over the strategy for the day or plan our next experiment, such as field trials with nearby Teagasc, or in collaboration with our overseas partners.
My main research goal is working on developing a vaccine that prevents major parasitic disease in humans and animals, as well as developing diagnostic tests for parasites to help farmers control and manage infection on the farm.
I’m also interested in how parasites control the immune system. If we can figure out how they do it, we can copy them and use parasite molecules to treat inflammatory diseases such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, Type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and arthritis.
Our experimental research so far indicates that we can use our parasite-designed molecules to silence these auto-reactive responses and possibly come up with new treatments.
After a 15-minute power nap, I start work on the second edition of a book on parasitology that I first edited 20 years ago. I am currently working on encouraging people to contribute. I also set aside time to prepare grant applications of my own.
Back home, I WhatsApp my family once more before heading to the gym. I tune into TG4 in the evenings in an attempt to brush up on Gaelic.