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 is the CEO of Plusvital. Mike is a chemical engineer by background with an MBA from UCD Smurfit graduate school of business. Mike 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

Emmeline 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

Joe 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 Coolmore Stud both in Ireland and the US, as well as in International Sales for Glanbia/GAIN Horse Feeds, horses have always been a passion! Having ridden from from an early age, Ciara went on to win the ladies side-saddle class at the RDS as well as representing Ireland in dressage and showjumping in Switzerland at the World Equestrian Student Games. Ciara also owned her own chocolate company exporting truffles to the UK and France.

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R & D Team

Dr Beatrice McGivney

Senior Researcher

Beatrice 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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Dr Heather Wiencko

Senior Bioinformatician And Data Engineer

Heather started her scientific career as a synthetic inorganic chemist, then left catalysis in favour of protein structure prediction for her PhD at Caltech. From there she did a postdoc in systems biology and had a brief stint as a staff bioinformatician in the Genetics department of Trinity College before coming to Plusvital to wrangle equine genetic data. She is active in the open science and open data community, and sits on the board of the Open Bioinformatics Foundation.

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Emma Hastings

Developer

Emma is software developer and bioinformatician with experience in both scientific software development and biological data management. Prior to joining Plusvital in January 2017, Emma spent six years at the European Bioinformatics Institute in Cambridge where she worked as a full stack software developer on the GWAS Catalog (https://www.ebi.ac.uk/gwas/) and as a data curator on a functional genomics database. A large focus of her work involved collaborating with data curators to present information from genome-wide association studies to the wider scientific community. Emma has a degree in Zoology from Trinity College Dublin and an M.Sc. from DCU in Bioinformatics.

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Dr Matthew Weiser

Bioinformatician

Matt received a Ph.D. in bioinformatics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2015. His research focused on methods and applications for identifying genetic and epigenetic variants associated with complex traits, particularly Crohn’s Disease. After completing his Ph.D., he was selected as a fellow for The Data Incubator, an eight-week data science training program that teaches an industry-based skill set to recent grads. Matt also has an avid interest in sports analytics, and keeps his machine learning skills sharp by engineering predictive features and modeling sporting event outcomes. He joins Plusvital in 2016 as a bioinformatician/data analyst, and is excited to study the genetic basis of speed in Thoroughbreds.

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Amy Holtby

PhD Researcher

Originally from Yorkshire, Amy 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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Shaileen McGovern

Research Assistant

Shaileen graduated top of her class in 2015 with a BAgrSc Degree in Animal Science – Equine. Throughout her time in UCD, her love for genomics and biotechnology grew; which led to her working for Professor Hill’s Equine Exercise Genomics research group as part of her Professional Work Experience. During her degree, she has been presented with awards from UCD’s School of Agriculture & Food Science, the Agricultural Science Association and the (then) Minister for Agriculture, Mr. Simon Coveney. After graduating, she became a Genomics/Molecular Biology Laboratory Technician within the Equinome Operations Team, and is now part of Plusvital’s R&D team. She is eager to see (and partake in!) the genomic and computational revolutions that are happening within the equine and wider agri-food industry – and how these technologies can be harnessed for their benefit. In her spare time, she enjoys drawing and strolling through the ‘lovely Leitrim’ countryside.

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Dr Michael Griffin

Research Veterinarian

Michael 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’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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Celine McEniry

Sales Operations Manager

Celine is a graduate of the Godolphin Flying Start Programme, which is a unique management and leadership training program that specialises in the international Thoroughbred racing and breeding industry. Upon graduation Celine spent five years working with Godolphin’s European Sales team as a Stallion Nominations Executive. In 2012, Celine took up the position of Marketing Executive at Irish Thoroughbred Marketing, where she was responsible for promoting Ireland as the leading source of bloodstock, internationally. In 2013, Celine joined the team at Equinome and since then she has travelled extensively to meet with clients and promote the company’s services at home and abroad. In that time, Celine has witnessed a remarkable shift in the adaption of genetic testing within the thoroughbred industry. It’s very satisfying to see industry professionals now using our services to help support key bloodstock selection decisions. A recent graduate of the International Selling Programme, Celine is now responsible for managing the Sales Operations aspect of the business by implementing best practices and methodologies in order to increase sales performance.

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Amandine Lefèvre

Australasian Sales Executive

Amandine has a degree in Agricultural Engineering and completed the Irish National Stud and the Darley Flying Start courses allowing her to gain a global Thoroughbred industry awareness. Previously very hands-on in the industry she worked for various stud farms around the world such as Cambridge Stud in New Zealand and Coolmore Stud in Ireland. Amandine has held the role of Australasian Sales Executive since August 2014. She enjoys educating clients and showing them the benefits of equine genomic technology when used in harmony with other tools such as horsemanship. She loves going to the races and seeing a horse’s performance improve following testing makes her day!

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Amy Buckley

European Sales Executive

Amy is a 2014 graduate of the BAgrSc Animal Science  Equine degree at University College Dublin. Although interested and involved in all aspects of the Equine Industry, she has been involved in show jumping from a young age. She has previously groomed for many of Ireland’s leading riders both at home and abroad and also competed part time throughout her education. In addition to her Sport Horse background, Amy has spent much time abroad working within the Thoroughbred industry, particularly in Australia where she worked in Yearling Prep as well as riding breakers. As well as her hands-on experience, Amy was also a member of the RDS team in the run up to the 2013 International Dublin Horse Show.

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Stephen Mulvany

North American Sales Executive

Stephen, 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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Operations

Dr Louise Cullen

Molecular Biology Laboratory Technician

Louise 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 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, 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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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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