June 2024


FENS Forum in Vienna, here we go! We are very much looking forward to it! 

Postdoctoral candidates interested in applying for the MSCA Postdoctoral Fellowship 2024 at the University of Limerick (Ireland)

Are you a motivated postdoctoral candidate ready to take the next step in your professional journey? The Neuroendocrine Pharmacology lab (www.barretolab.org) is excited to offer support to a postdoctoral researcher applying for the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship Programme (MSCA-PF) at the University of Limerick (Deadline: September 11, 2024).

Our group is dedicated to uncover early biomarkers of endocrine aging that could predict metabolic dysfunctions observed in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's. To achieve this, the candidate will leverage advanced data analytics, utilizing massive datasets from patients, animals, and cells to discover potential biomarkers and validate findings through experimental assays in the laboratory. We're seeking an ideal candidate with expertise in cutting-edge fields like artificial intelligence (machine learning), deep learning, mathematical modelling and systems biology. Proficiency in clinical data analysis, statistical methodologies, and hands-on experience in wet-lab techniques would be highly advantageous.

By joining our team, you'll become an integral part of a dynamic international network, collaborating with esteemed research groups from Ireland, Norway, the UK, Spain, and Chile. Active involvement in network-led studies and the opportunity to undertake a secondment in one of our partner groups to contribute to shared project objectives are strongly encouraged.

Who can apply?

We welcome applications from exceptional researchers worldwide who hold a doctoral degree by the call deadline, with up to 8 years of full-time postdoctoral experience. Candidates should have a PhD in Bioinformatics, Data Science, Computational Biology, Biostatistics, or related fields, showcasing demonstrable research proficiency in the specified areas. Geographic mobility is a prerequisite; applicants must not have resided in Ireland for more than 12 months within the last 36 months as of the call deadline.Application process

  1. Please submit your CV, including personal information and academic record.

  2. Prepare a concise one-page research proposal aligned with our group's research interests (barretolab.org)

Express your interest by June 30th via email to George.Barreto@ul.ie.

Don't miss out on this incredible opportunity to propel your research career forward and contribute to groundbreaking discoveries in neuroendocrinology and aging research at the University of Limerick!

Further Information 

Post doctoral research roles are considered advanced research training roles as part of the Researcher Career Framework. The purpose of this advanced research training role is to conduct a specified programme of research under the supervision of a Principal Investigator while continuing to develop skills and competencies with respect to the role and future career options.

Benefits at the University of Limerick

Employees of the University of Limerick receive a variety of benefits including:

Equal opportunities at the University of Limerick

The University of Limerick is an equal opportunities employer, is committed to selection on merit and to the developing and maintaining a positive working environment, in which all employees are treated with dignity & respect. In pursuit of this, it is the policy of the University to provide all employees with an environment, which is free from bullying, harassment or victimisation of any form.  You can read more about UL’s commitment to equality diversity and inclusion here.

Researcher Development

The University of Limerick Researcher Development Programme gives researchers an opportunity to develop and enhance the skills, knowledge and attributes necessary to complete their research and longer term career ambitions.

May 2024


Enhancing Global Partnerships in Brain Research | 2024 FENS Forum Networking Reception

We are delighted to announce that Prof Silvia Costa from the Federal University of Bahia (UFBA) in Brazil will be joining our laboratory as a visiting professor. Dr Costa will be conducting research activities aimed at investigating the neuroprotective effects of plant-derived bioactive molecules with hormonal activity in an inflammatory model of astrocytes. These activities are part of an international collaborative project between UFBA and UL, which was recently funded by Brazil's National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq).

April 2024

Two papers in one roll is fantastic! Our new research paper is OUT!!! In this latest study, Andrew explored the molecular landscape of the brain post-GHD to better understand hormone therapy (HT) effectiveness. Using a gonadal hormone deprivation (GHD) mouse model treated with Tibolone—a compound activating estrogenic, progestogenic, and androgenic pathways—he conducted a high-throughput proteomic analysis of the pre-frontal cortex. The findings unveiled an amazing reprogrammed response to Tibolone, especially within pathways crucial to neurodegeneration.

What's the importance of this study?

Our study underscores the necessity of precision medicine in HT administration, tailoring treatment to individual factors for optimal outcomes. By deciphering the molecular changes post-GHD, personalized interventions for neurodegenerative diseases may become a reality, potentially revolutionizing treatment strategies. Our study marks a significant advancement in understanding HT efficacy and emphasizes the importance of further exploration in this field.

Want to know more about this exciting research? Check this link: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsbmb.2024.106520

March 2024


Our new paper is OUT!!! It highlights a fascinating discovery in neurobiology: male and female astrocytes exhibit distinct responses to lipotoxic damage associated with obesity. Led by Oscar Lanussa, this study suggests that high concentrations of palmitic acid (PA), a common fatty acid in obesity, pose a greater threat to male astrocytes' fate. Female astrocytes, on the other hand, display a stronger defense mechanism, potentially mediated by endogenous hormones. This groundbreaking finding underscores the importance of considering sex-specific factors in understanding brain health and disease.

Check it out: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0969996124000883?via%3Dihub 

February 2024

Our research group will be travelling to Turin to attend the 12th International Meeting Steroids and Nervous System. We are very excited to participate in this event! Italy, here we go :)

Our new review paper is out!  We all know that dietary habits play a critical role in preventing neurodegenerative diseases, with omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) like DHA, ALA, and EPA showing promise in promoting brain health. However, modern diets often lack sufficient omega-3 intake, and the effectiveness of fish oil supplements remains uncertain. With Dag Aarsland's team, we discussed the complexities influencing omega-3 PUFA interventions for dementia and cognitive decline, offering strategies for enhancing their efficacy and suggesting future research directions. Want to learn more? Check it out: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14737175.2024.2313547 

Our lab is happy to welcome Matas Merkelis, a recent graduate in medical biochemistry from the Lithuanian University of Medical Sciences.

Matas will be working on a project to identify early mitochondrial biomarkers of neurodegeneration in astrocytes and to implement a novel steroid treatment that can regulate mitochondrial inflammation in these cells. Welcome Matas and we hope you enjoy UL and Limerick!

Our Department is hiring a permanent University Teacher. Come and work with our fantastic team!

For more information: https://universityvacancies.com/university-limerick/university-teacher-advanced-biological-techniques 

December 2023

September 2023

12th International Meeting "Steroids and Nervous System” Torino (Italy) February 24-27, 2024




Organizing Committee

Roberto C. Melcangi

Silvia Giatti

Stefano Gotti  


Internation Scientific Committee

Charlotte Cornil

George Barreto

Karin M. Frick

Liisa Galea

Onno Meijer


Dear Colleague,

the registration and abstract submission for the next meeting (February 24-27, 2024) is now open:




you may have a look on the program at:




As for previous meetings we are engaged in facilitating the attendance of young people, therefore we have a program of small support for young researchers attending to the meeting and presenting an abstract.

The request for these fellowships in now open:






Looking forward to your attendance

Roberto Cosimo Melcangi, Silvia Giatti and Stefano Gotti

August 2023


Our lab warmly welcomes Dr. Lanussa, as a Postdoctoral fellow! We extend our best wishes for success in your research endeavours and hope that your time in our laboratory will yield both academic and personal accomplishments. This marks the beginning of an exhilarating venture, and we are thrilled to have you as a member of our team! Welcome again and enjoy UL and Limerick!


July 2023

We review the current literature on tibolone and its effects on cognitive function. Some studies have shown that tibolone can improve cognitive function in postmenopausal women, while others have found no significant effect.

Link: https://www.mdpi.com/2218-273X/13/7/1115 


Our new review is out!!! In this paper we highlight the potential of tibolone, a synthetic steroid hormone, as a treatment for Alzheimer's disease. We begin by discussing the role of hormones, particularly estrogen, in the development of Alzheimer's disease. We explain that hormone loss, particularly in post-menopausal women, is associated with an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. We then introduce tibolone, a pro-synthetic drug approved by the FDA for the reduction of adverse menopausal symptoms in women. Tibolone has been shown to have broad anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects by activating estrogen receptor alpha (ERα) and ERβ, progesterone (PGR) and androgen (AR) receptors.

We then look at tibolone's potential as a treatment for Alzheimer's disease. Tibolone may be able to alleviate some of the negative effects of hormone loss, such as inflammation and oxidative stress, which are hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease. Several studies have investigated the effects of tibolone on Alzheimer's disease, including animal studies and clinical trials. While the results of these studies are mixed, we conclude that tibolone shows promise as a treatment for Alzheimer's disease, but more research is needed to fully understand its potential benefits and drawbacks.

Our new paper is out!!! In collaboration with David Ramírez (University of Concepción, Chile) and Janneth Gonzalez (Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Colombia), we explored the potential of tibolone, a synthetic steroid hormone, as a treatment for traumatic brain injury (TBI). We used network pharmacology and topological analysis to identify the molecular mechanisms of tibolone metabolites in TBI. We found that tibolone and its metabolites regulate multiple pathways involved in inflammation, oxidative stress, and neuronal death. Finally, we also identified several molecular targets, including KDR, ESR2, AR, NR3C1, PPARD, and PPARA , which are known to play critical roles in the pathogenesis of TBI.This involved the genes.

Interested in TBI research? Check it out: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopha.2023.115089  


June 2023


12th International Meeting "Steroids and Nervous System” Torino (Italy) February 24-27, 2024



Organizing Committee

Roberto C. Melcangi

Silvia Giatti

Stefano Gotti  


Internation Scientific Committee

Charlotte Cornil

George Barreto

Karin M. Frick

Liisa Galea

Onno Meyer


The program of our next meeting (February 24-27, 2024) is now available:



Early registration and abstract submission will open on September 18, and close on December 18, 2023.

As for previous meetings we are engaged in facilitating the attendance of young people, therefore we have a program of small support for young researchers attending to the meeting and presenting an abstract.

The request for these fellowships will open on September 18 and close on November 16, 2023.


Looking forward to your attendance!

The Organizing Committee

May 2023



A new collaborative work with Dag Aarsland & Team (Norway) is now out! In this study, Alberto Jaramillo-Jimenez suggests that abnormalities in the TCA cycle could be linked to cognitive decline in mild dementia patients. Serum TCA cycle metabolites were analyzed in a cohort of mild dementia patients, and potential interactions with Lewy Body Dementia (LBD) or Alzheimer's Disease (AD) and APOE-ε4 genotype were explored. The study found that serum citrate concentrations could be associated with subsequent cognitive decline, as well as isocitrate concentrations in APOE-ε4 carriers. The findings could be significant in the development of early interventions for cognitive decline in mild dementia patients.

Check it out: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1567724923000399?via%3Dihub 


April 2023



Want to apply to any IBRO grant but do not know how? Check out this Webinar and apply (it's free!):


Link: https://ibro.org/webinar-crafting-ibro-grant-application/ 

March 2023


We're excited to welcome Nicole Hofman and Christopher O'Mahoney to our lab! We can't wait to see the fresh ideas and perspectives that they will bring to our ongoing research. Together, we will continue to push the boundaries of science and make new discoveries that will benefit us all. Welcome aboard!

January 2023



We are sure all Neuroendocrine researchers working on the field met Giancarlo Panzica, one of the organizers of the International Meeting on Steroids and Nervous System, at some stage in their academic career. Unfortunately, he passed away in July of this year. To celebrate our colleague and friend, a symposium " State of the art on Steroids and Nervous System: In memory of Giancarlo" will be organized virtually on February 23-24, 2023.


Attendance will be free, but due to the limited number of access to the event, an email registration will be needed (please reply to neurosteroids@unito.it).

Want to know more about phloretin, a natural estrogen receptor agonist? Take a look at our new published paper on its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. This study was developed by Kubra Ongay, as part of her MSc Biomolecular Science thesis, and in collaboration with Daniel Granato. More exciting results coming up!!!!

Find it here: Molecules | Free Full-Text | Comparison of Antioxidant Capacity and Network Pharmacology of Phloretin and Phlorizin against Neuroinflammation in Traumatic Brain Injury (mdpi.com)

November 2022



Our new paper is out!!!

Our finding shows that sex, gonadal hormones, and the hormone replacement therapy Tibolone appears to interact in mitochondrial metabolism and neurodegeneration pathways - with possible implications for study design and intervention. Find it here: https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/23/23/14754

Congratulations Andrew, well done! 

October 2022



Some exciting news!

Andrew had been selected and recently attended the 4th ISN-JNC Flagship School: “Brain Metabolism in Health and Disease”  in Schmerlenbach, Germany. This was a great event with the participation of speakers well known in the metabolism field! 

Andrew is now in Madrid (Spain) for an internship funded by IBRO to run some experiments in the lab of Dr Angeles Arevalo at the Cajal Institute. Great results coming up...

June 2022




Our lab has a new Postdoctoral fellow!  Abdoh Taleb finished his doctoral studies in China and moved to Ireland to start his Postdoctoral position in Neuroscience funded by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI). Warm welcome from our team, Abdoh, and we do really hope you enjoy UL and Ireland! 


Summer is here, this means new students are joining our lab to work on mitochondria-related projects. As a recipient of a Roibeárd Thornton Memorial- Janssen (companies of Johnson and Johnson) fellowship, Emma Noonan, now a 3rd year Bioscience student, will develop her skills in oxidative phosphorylation in cells under metabolic dysfunction.  


Two ERASMUS students also join our team. Both from Spain, Rosa and Enrique will work on a project to investigate how tibolone regulates lipid metabolism in in vitro cells. 


Welcome Emma, Rosa and Enrique. We hope you enjoy working with us over the summer. 



Our PhD student Andrew has been awarded an Exchange fellowship from International Brain Research Organization (IBRO) for an internship in the laboratory of Dr Arevalo at Cajal Institute, Madrid, Spain. Part of his PhD project will be carried out there using the Four Core genotype mice to assess sex differences in mitochondria! Well done and congrats Andrew!


May 2022



New original paper from our lab is out!!! We identify two novel ligands able to to bind CCR2, a membrane receptor widely involved in TBI-induced inflammation. 

Link: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0753332222005443 

Congratulations Kilian Sachdev and Kevin Lynch, both Bioscience graduates, for this outstanding work!!! 

Our lab is delighted to have been awarded under the Frontiers for the Future Programme. Our grant will focus on neuroglobin, traumatic brain injury and tibolone and investigate how/why sex matters in mitochondria response to injury.

This is an international collaborative project with Dr David Ramírez (@davidmau @theramirezlab ) at Universidad de Concepción (Chile) to explore drugs that protect mitochondria in a sex-dependent manner following TBI. 

We sincerely thank Science Foundation Ireland for this great support and for the evaluators/reviewers for taking the time and effort and for appreciating our proposal. New exciting research is coming up!!!





Our PhD student Andrew McGovern did a great presentation at Pint of Science Ireland in Limerick last night (12/05/2022). Congrats Andrew!!

March 2022


A new original paper from our group is out! This international collaborative paper with Janneth Gonzalez & team at PUJ (Colombia) and David Ramírez at Universidad de Concepción (Chile) reports prohibitin as a key mitochondrial protein being regulated by dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a metabolite of testosterone, and significantly involved in traumatic brain injury pathology. TBI patients suffer from hypogonadism, so treatment with DHT, a metabolite of testosterone, might be a promising therapeutic approach! #TBI #DHT #testosterone #prohibitin

Two new papers in collaboration with Janneth Gonzalez & team are now out!!! In the review by Vesga-Jiménez et al we deeply discussed the implications of fatty acids, in particular palmitic acid, an unsaturated lipid, in the pathological mechanisms underlying neurodegenerative diseases. In the second paper by Cabezas et al, we used machine learning and multivariate statistical analysis to integrate lipidomics and metabolomics of human astrocytes exposed to high concentration of palmitic acid and delved into how tibolone protects these cells under lipotoxicity. 

Our lab is delighted to welcome Alannah Aherne, our new Research Assistant! She will be working on a project to explore protection by neuroglobin in traumatic brain injury. We are very excited to have you in our team!!! Welcome, Alannah! 

February 2022


Our lab participated in the 11th International Meeting on Steroids and Nervous System (virtual) from 19-22 February. Our PhD student Andrew McGovern made an outstanding oral presentation titled "Sex differences in mitochondrial metabolism from a proteomic analysis of a gonadectomised and tibolone treated mouse model". Well done Andrew!!!!

December 2021


Event of this month: Our lab participated in the International School of Neuroscience held from December 13-17.  This was a great and unforgettable experience with the participation of 20 students and live streaming from social media. 


November 2021


Congratulations to Andrew for winning the first PhD year presentation in the Research and Innovation day at Biological Sciences_UL . Well deserved and well done! More interesting things about sex differences to come!

We are hiring! Two SFI-funded positions are now available in our lab. We are looking for enthusiastic and research-driven candidates for a Postdoctoral fellow and Research Assistant positions interested in working on a project to better understand the hormonal regulation of mitochondria metabolism. Come work with us in a stunning, international, and multicultural University located in a wonderful area (Castletroy/Limerick) with lots to do! See our lab website (www.barretolab.org) for more info about us and our current projects. DM me if you have any question (George.Barreto@ul.ie)!

Applications due December 2nd.

Apply here:

Postdoctoral fellow (ID 047828)

Research Assistant (ID 047829)

Abstracts submission is open! Check out our event's page: https://sites.google.com/view/neurosteroids2022

New paper published in collaboration with Kristi A Kohlmeier and Altair Brito from University of Copenhagen (Denmark): https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34693879/

September 2021


Bioscience Final Year Proyect season kicks off! Our lab welcomes Frances, Emer and Daniela, who will be working on mitochondria and neuroglobin-related projects!

Lea Lüdtke from RWTH Aachen University (Germany) is joining our group as Eramus Student - she will spend 3.5 months taking on a project to better understand the actions of hormones over brain cells. Welcome Lea!!!

August 2021



Our new review has just been published! Get to know more about how estrogenic compounds regulate neuroglobin signaling.

Link: https://www.mdpi.com/2073-4409/10/8/1907  


Interested to know how machine learning as a high-throughput approach is used to predict disease onset and development? Check out our new review paper! 


Link: https://www.mdpi.com/2218-273X/11/8/1132 

July 2021


Léana Aberrane, an Erasmus student from France, starts her internship in our group. Her project aims to better understand the role of neuroglobin and hormone signaling in the diseased brain! Welcome Léana!!!

June 2021

We are delighted to have been funded an Ulysses 2020 award from Irish Research Council (IRC) and Health Research Board (HRB) to support our collaborative work with Dr Karim Belarbi from University of Lille (France). Our joint project aims to delve into the participation of mitochondrial proteins as potential biomarkers in Parkinson's disease patients. 

Ally Crimmins joins our group as a Summer Bioscience student. Welcome Ally! 



Our new logo has been launched! This identifies our key research areas and prospective studies!!!



Do you know some plants have estrogenic properties? Check out our new review on this interesting topic: Estrogenic Plants: to Prevent Neurodegeneration and Memory Loss and Other Symptoms in Women After Menopause