Our People

Our People

Plusvital has a very strong team of both scientists and horse industry experts. Our research team includes genetic researchers, vets, bio-informaticians, developers and nutrition experts giving us an in-house expertise that is second to none. Our sales and marketing team include executives with a wide range of equine industry experience, giving them a clear insight into how to best use our products and services to give our customers a competitive edge.

We are always looking for high-potential people to join our fast-paced team at Plusvital. If working at the cutting-edge of the equine industry excites you, please forward your CV and a brief cover note to info@plusvital.com

Senior Management

Mike Shelly

CEO

Mike Shelly is the CEO of Plusvital. Mike is a chemical engineer by background with an MBA from UCD Smurfit graduate school of business. He started his career in biotech where he worked in a number of operational and process engineering roles for Wyeth (now Pfizer) and Amgen in Ireland, Switzerland and the USA. Upon completion of his MBA, he joined a startup renewable energy company operating in the UK and Ireland in a business development/management position. Upon the successful trade sale of this business, Mike returned to Ireland where he joined Plusvital as Head of Business Development and he became CEO in early 2015. Mike is passionate about the vision of building a world-class equine science company based in Ireland and is far too tall to ride horses.

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Prof Emmeline Hill

CSO

Professor Emmeline Hill was a co-founder of Equinome Ltd. and leads the Plusvital R&D team. In 2004 she was awarded a President of Ireland Young Researcher Award to establish the world’s first academic research programme dedicated to understanding performance traits in the Thoroughbred. She has been at the forefront of Thoroughbred performance genomics during the last decade and has published more scientific papers on equine exercise genomics than any other researcher worldwide. She is an Associate Professor of Equine Science at University College Dublin and leads the Equine Exercise Genomics research group at UCD funded by Science Foundation Ireland. She has retrained a former steeplechaser to be her weekend hack and she rides regularly with her two children.

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Joseph Igoe

CFO

Joseph Igoe is the CFO of Plusvital. Joe is a Chartered Financial and Tax Accountant and holds an Honours Masters of Accountancy (NUIG).  Joe completed his professional training in EY and worked on various audit and consultancy assignments in Ireland, Europe and the USA. Prior to joining Plusvital in March 2016, Joe worked as a Financial Accountant and Finance Manager for Allianz and subsequently First Data (t/a AIBMS). Joe looks forward to growing a leading Irish equestrian biotech company. Joe has long standing involvement and interest in racing, show-jumping and eventing.

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Ciara Watt

Sales Director

Ciara Watt studied Environmental Science at NUIG and also completed a BA in Marketing in French. Having worked for the world renowned Coolmore Stud both in Ireland and the US, as well as International Sales for Glanbia/GAIN Horse Feeds she has vast knowledge of the Global thoroughbred Industry. Horses have always been a passion having ridden and competed from an early age. Ciara has won the ladies side-saddle class at the Royal Dublin Horse Show as well as representing Ireland in dressage and show jumping in Switzerland at the World Equestrian Student Games. Ciara also owned her own chocolate company exporting handmade truffles to the UK and France and was finalist in the Entrepreneur of the Year Awards before selling the company.

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R & D Team

Dr Beatrice McGivney

Senior Researcher

Dr Beatrice McGivney is a molecular genomics researcher at Plusvital. She graduated from Trinity College Dublin with a degree in Human Genetics and then joined Professor Hill’s Equine Exercise Genomics research group obtaining a PhD in Equine Functional Genomics. Beatrice started her career in Equinome Ltd in 2009 and following a three-year interval working as postdoctoral researcher she returned to Equinome Ltd. In 2014. Beatrice’s research has focussed on understanding the genetic response to exercise in the Thoroughbred and in the development of tests to predict performance traits in the Thoroughbred racehorse. She loves to get out riding whenever she the opportunity arises with hunting and polocrosse being the latest endeavours.

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Amy Holtby

PhD Researcher

Originally from Yorkshire, Amy Holtby joined Equinome Ltd in July 2013 after graduating from the Royal Agricultural University (Cirencester) with first-class honours in Equine Science. During her degree, she worked with high-performance polo ponies which inspired her undergraduate research project investigating myostatin mutations in polo ponies, which she performed in collaboration with Equinome. Having worked as part of laboratory operations team for three years she was always eager to pursue her passion for research exploring the biological dynamics underpinning the equine athlete and started a PhD project based at University College Dublin in September 2016.  In her spare time she enjoys riding in Wicklow and is also a member of the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders Association Next Generation club.

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Dr Michael Griffin

Research Veterinarian

Dr Michael Griffin completed a BSc (Hons) followed by PhD in Chemistry in UCD (2001-2009). His PhD work involved structural, magnetic and photomagnetic studies of Iron(III) spin crossover complexes intended for use in molecular data storage devices. He then worked as a postdoctoral researcher for a year (2009-2010) completing research on the synthesis and characterisation of novel Ruthenium dyes for use in solar cells. He subsequently graduated from Veterinary Medicine in UCD (2011-2016) during which time he developed a keen interest in equine veterinary medicine and research. Specifically, he is interested in sports-related equine veterinary and also equine reproduction including advanced reproductive technologies.

Having being raised in a family which always had involvement in the equine industry he has enjoyed competing horses in show jumping, point-to- point and endurance riding competitions for many years which included reaching an international level in endurance racing.

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Sales & Marketing

Robert O’Connor

Marketing Manager

Originally hailing from the west of Ireland, Robert O’Connor’s first real memory of horse racing is receiving some terrible betting tips from the chocolate seller at his local racecourse. Things only got better from there on out and Robert studied a BComm International in NUI Galway, followed by a MSc in Marketing in the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate School of Business, before eventually ending up in telecommunications giant, Vodafone Ireland.

After nearly five years working on a diverse set of international projects with Vodafone, Robert left the company to fulfil a long-held ambition in backpacking around the globe for nine months, but returned to Ireland to join the Plusvital team in January 2017. Robert has been known to throw a rugby ball around, claims to speak Spanish (badly) and, while he rarely rides horses, he tends to travel much farther on bikes, once completing an 800km charity cycle from Paris to Dusseldorf.

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Stephen Mulvany

North American Sales Executive

Stephen Mulvany, a native of Dublin, Ireland, joined the Plusvital team in 2016 after having completed a Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science – Equine at Universtity College Dublin. It was his Grandfather’s involvement in racehorse ownership that sparked his interest in horse racing at a young age and in his teenage years he began working as a stable jockey for his uncle and trainer, Michael Mulvany. During his college career Stephen gained a wealth of industry experience, having had the opportunity to work for Paca Paca Farm – Japan, Leopardstown Racecourse – Dublin, and at a variety of sales between Ireland and the UK.

Outside of the industry, Stephen enjoys spending his free time on the golf course, playing rugby and Gaelic football. Stephen now resides in Lexington Kentucky, where he works with owners, breeders and trainers to fully exploit their horse’s genetic potential.

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Jodi Finucane

European Sales Executive

Jodi Finucane, originally from Limerick, is now based in York, England. She graduated from University College Dublin with a Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Science. Jodi has ridden all of her life, mainly showjumping followed by a stint in Hickstead working for International Irish Showjumper Shane Breen. Throughout her time in University, Jodi competed on the UCD showjumping team that won the National Intervarsities in 2015 and also competed in showing at the Dublin Horse Show.

Jodi gained the vast majority of her knowledge of racing and thoroughbreds at Camas Park Stud doing everything from sales prepping, riding out to stud/racing office duties. This was followed by a breeding season at HH Aga Khan studs in 2016 in Kildare. Soon after, Jodi moved to North Yorkshire to take up the role of Graduate Equine Nutritionist with TopSpec for a year. Jodi rides out whenever she can and is a frequent race-goer.

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Brad McCarthy

Australia/New Zealand Sales Executive

Brad McCarthy is Plusvital’s Sales Executive serving both Australia and New Zealand.

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Operations

Dr Louise Cullen

Molecular Biology Laboratory Technician

Dr Louise Cullen is a biologist with a strong interest in genomics and proteomics. Louise graduated with a primary degree in Bioanalytical Science from ITT Dublin in 2012. She has since completed a three-year PhD in the field of microbial host interactions, funded by the Irish Research Council. She has previously collaborated with a major Irish dairy company on optimising an immunoassay for the detection of thermoduric bacteria in dairy products. Louise is passionate about research and development, in addition to Plusvital daily laboratory operations, she is currently working on a method development project with the other members of the operations team.

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Leanne Corduff

Molecular Biology Laboratory Technician

Leanne Corduff has worked as a Research Assistant on the Beef Data Genomic Programme with Weatherbys Ireland, a scheme carried out aiming to improve the genetic merit of the cattle herd. Previously, she worked as a Microbiologist in a food, water and Environmental Testing laboratory. She studied a Bachelor of Science in Applied Bioscience in Dundalk Institute of Technology and an honours degree in Environmental Biology. She has an interest in health and equine performance in horse racing and has two race horses at home.

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Gita Lelesiute

Operations Manager

Gita Lelesiute, originally from Lithuania, completed her BA degree in English Philology at Vilnius Pedagogical University and set out for some adventure to Ireland where she’s lived for over 14 years. She joined the Plusvital team as Executive Assistant to the CEO in early 2014, and became Operations Manager in 2015. Gita manages the process of supplements orders and works closely with our factory at David Taylor Animal Nutrition Ltd to ensure smooth manufacture and dispatch. From exports and registration documents to regulatory processes and quality control, Gita provides fast and efficient support to our agents worldwide.

Gita is also our Office Manager, overseeing the smooth day-to-day running of the business.

She devotes her spare time to her daughter and her pets and is an avid animal rights advocate.

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Song Liu

Database Administrator

Song Liu completed a BSc in Computer Science and Technology in Shandong Agricultural University, China (2012-2016), followed by a MSc in Computer Science (Data stream) in UCD (2016-2017). Song has previously worked with digital solutions company 4PM to build their property price prediction project and participated in an academic team project to integrate multiple data APIs and present social views for popular news. During his last year of undergraduate study, Song also worked as a Research Assistant in college Big Data Lab and mainly focused on data Extract-Transform-Load among data sources of remote databases and various formatted files. Song has no previous experience with horses, but would like to develop horse riding as hobby.

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Scientific Advisory Committee

Prof David MacHugh

Prof David MacHugh obtained a BA (Mod) degree in Genetics from Trinity College Dublin in 1988 and undertook PhD research in animal genomics at TCD. His postdoctoral work on livestock paleogenomics was funded by a Wellcome Trust Research Fellowship in Bioarchaeology. In 1999 he took up a lectureship in University College Dublin and was appointed Professor in 2009. He is currently the Associate Dean for Research, Innovation and Impact at the UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science. He is also a Conway Investigator (www.ucd.ie/conway), co-founder and Scientific Advisor to Equinome Ltd. (www.equinome.com) and a co-founder and member of the Scientific Advisory Board of IdentiGEN Ltd. (www.identigen.com).

Prof MacHugh’s research programme is focused on functional genomics of host-pathogen interactions for Mycobacterium bovis infection and development of novel disease biomarkers for bovine tuberculosis. Other research activities include livestock production genomics; population genomics of extinct and modern livestock populations; and with Professor Emmeline Hill, genomics of health and performance traits in Thoroughbred horses.

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Prof Lisa Katz

Prof Lisa Katz, an Associate Professor in the School of Veterinary Medicine, UCD, Ireland, obtained her DVM from the University of Georgia (USA, 1994) and holds an MSc degree in equine exercise physiology (Washington State University, USA, 1998) and a PhD degree in equine vascular biology (Royal Veterinary College, UK, 2003). She is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM, 2001) and the European College of Equine Internal Medicine (ECEIM, 2005). Prof Katz has over 44 refereed publications in the scientific and clinical veterinary literature and has made several contributions to book chapters in her specialist areas. Her clinical and research interests include equine laminitis, equine exercise physiology and equine genomics.

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