NREC-CT A Members
Prof. Alistair Nichol
Professor Alistair Nichol is a Consultant Anaesthetist & Intensivist at St. Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin, and Chair of Critical Care Medicine at University College Dublin. An esteemed clinical researcher, Alistair has received over €38 million in research funding and is currently the Chief Investigator on studies that have randomised over 40,000 patients. Alistair has worked as a Management Committee Chair, Principal Investigator, Chief Investigator, and Site Investigator on over 10 international multicentre clinical trials involving the critically ill. These studies have had a major impact on contemporary healthcare practices and guidelines, including those adopted by the World Health Organisation, and have resulted in over 100 publications and 16 high-impact journal articles (NEJM, Lancet, JAMA, Nature). Alistair also collaborates with clinical trials groups in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, as well as several European groups. His research interests include pandemic preparedness, having led a programme of observational, biological, and interventional trials in critically ill patients in Ireland. Alistair also has a particular interest in the ethical, administrative, regulatory, and logistical barriers to research involving the critically ill. As NREC-CT A Chair, he joins the committee with a commitment to optimising access to high-quality clinical trials and driving the development of new treatments that improve outcomes for Irish patients.
Dr Heike Felzmann
Prof. Mary Donnelly
Professor Mary Donnelly is a lecturer at the School of Law, University College Cork (UCC). Mary has 30 years’ experience practicing, teaching, and conducting research in law, with a specialism in health law that includes informed consent and decision-making for children and adults lacking capacity, the intersections between legal and medical systems, and the consequences of legal involvement for medical practice. She has collaborated on projects funded by the European Commission, the Irish Research Council, the National Children's Office, the Wellcome Trust, and the Irish Hospice Foundation. Her publications include Healthcare Decision-Making and the Law: Autonomy, Capacity and the Limits of Liberalism (Cambridge University Press, 2010); and the jointly edited collection entitled Ethical and Legal Debates in Irish Healthcare: Confronting Complexities (Manchester University Press, 2016). Mary is currently joint-chair of the HSE National Consent Advisory Group and the HSE Assisted-Decision-Making Commencement Steering Committee, and a member of the Mental Health Commission Legislation Committee. She is former chair of the University Cork Ethics Committee (2014-19), and sat on the National Research Ethics Committee for COVID-19 during its tenure from April-August 2020. Among her memberships, she has participated in a range of advisory groups including the Multidisciplinary Working Group on Advance Healthcare Directives (2016-19); the Expert Technical Group on Codes of Practice for the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 (2017-19); and the Expert Group to Review the Mental Health Act 2001 (2013-15). Throughout her career, she has been a visiting fellow to a number of universities, including Monash University, Melbourne (2002), the London School of Economics (2009), and University College London (2016). Mary is a strong believer in the importance of high-quality ethics oversight as a key element in scientific progress, and is pleased to be able to contribute to these efforts as Deputy Chairperson of NREC-CT A.
Mrs Erica Bennett
Erica Bennett is a Senior Clinical Research Radiation Therapist and Bon Secours Radiotherapy Cork in partnership with UPMC Hillman Cancer Centre. She has over 20 years’ experience treating cancer patients and completed her MSc in Healthcare Ethics and Law in 2021. Her main duties include managing and co-ordinating radiotherapy clinical trials and being responsible for patient care together with the medical team. She is passionate about developing and improving oncology patient outcomes and experience through prehabilitation and clinical trials.
Prof. David Brayden
Professor David Brayden lectures in Advanced Drug Delivery at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin (UCD), and is a Senior Fellow of the UCD Conway Institute of Biotechnology where he teaches professional ethics material and coordinates a module on drug discovery and development. David joined UCD as a lecturer in veterinary pharmacology in 2001, was later appointed Head of the Veterinary Biosciences Section (2013-17), and promoted to Full Professor in 2014. From 2005-07 he chaired the UCD Animal Research Ethics Committee and from 2006-11 he sat on UCD’s Research Ethics Committee. David has over 35 years’ experience working on drug delivery formulations as a pharmacologist in both industry and academia. Having earned a PhD in pharmacology at the University of Cambridge (1989) and a postdoctoral research fellowship at Stanford University (1991), he went on to set up the pharmacology laboratory at Elan Corporation in Dublin, where he conducted research collaborations with US biotech companies. He is also former director of The Irish Drug Delivery Network (2007), funded by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) for drug delivery research in Ireland, and is currently a Principal Investigator at CÚRAM, SFI’s Research Centre for Medical Devices. At EU level, David has acted as an ethics advisor to the FP7 consortium under the PEARLL European Training Network (2016-19). He was elected as Fellow of the Controlled Release Society in 2012 and the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists in 2017, and was recently appointed Chief Editor of a new journal entitled Frontiers in Drug Delivery. David was motivated to join the National Research Ethics Committee for Clinical Trials to build upon his existing ethics committee experience within UCD and at an European level.
Prof. Donal Brennan
Donal Brennan is a Clinician Scientist who graduated from the UCD School of Medicine and received a PhD in Cancer biology from UCD. During his clinical training he also retained a post-doctoral position at the UCD Conway Institute of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science.
His research interests include ovarian cancer immunology and obesity-related carcinogenesis, the standardisation of surgical outcomes in advanced ovarian cancer, the role of hyperthermic intra-operative chemotherapy in ovarian cancer and the development of evidence-based survivorship services for women living with and after cancer.
He has helped develop and continues to work with a number of patient advocacy groups, firmly believing that patients should be involved in all stages of research and service development plans. He has received several awards for research, including as the inaugural recipient European Young Researcher of the Year in 2010, and has published 102 peer reviewed articles.
In 2012, he relocated to Brisbane to undertake subspecialist training in Gynaecological Oncology at the Queensland Centre for Gynaecological Cancer and also completed a fellowship in General and Colorectal surgery. He was also a visiting scientist at the QIMR-Berghofer Research Institute.
In 2016 he was appointed as UCD Professor of Gynaecological Oncology and Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecological Oncologist at the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, the National Maternity Hospital and St Vincent's University Hospital. Since his appointment, he and his team have developed the UCD Gynaecological Oncology Group which is now the largest gynaecological cancer service in Ireland, receiving over 500 new referrals annually and was accredited as an ESGO Centre for Ovarian Cancer surgery in 2020 and ESGO training site in 2021.
Dr Darren Dahly
Dr Darren Dahly is Principal Statistician of the Health Research Board Clinical Research Facility, Cork, and a Senior Lecturer in Patient-Focused Research Methods at the School of Public Health, University College Cork (UCC). In these roles, he consults and collaborates on a wide portfolio of patient-focused and public health research, including more than a dozen investigator-led clinical trials. Darren also teaches postgraduate students about clinical trial study design and analysis, reproducible research methods, and critical appraisal skills. Prior to joining UCC, he lectured in epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of Leeds. Darren earned a PhD in Epidemiology from the University of North Carolina in 2008 and a Masters in International Health Science from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland in 2002.
Mr Gerard Daly
Gerard Daly has had a keen interest in Public and Patient Involvement (PPI) in health-related research for many years. As a 'lay member' within the Mental Health Tribunal system, Gerard has participated in over 450 mental health tribunals. Since 2017, he has reviewed research applications on behalf of the Health Research Board’s PPI initiative to ensure that the interests of patients and the public are at the core of health research. Prior to this, Gerard was a board member at Acquired Brain Injury Ireland (2010-14), where he shared joint responsibility for governance and chaired the finance committee, in addition to other internal committees. Gerard became involved in PPI and lay membership following a 36-year career with the Department for Social Protection (1973-2009), where he spent much of his career working in Information Technology. In 2002 he was promoted to the senior management team as Assistant Secretary, with responsibility for large operational areas within the Department and shared responsibility for overall corporate management. Gerard qualified as a Chartered Public Finance Accountant from the Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, London, in 1999. He is passionate about contributing to health research initiatives that make a meaningful difference to public health, and believes that lay members add unique insights and perspectives to the research ethics review process.
Prof. Eugene Dempsey
Professor Eugene Dempsey is a UCC graduate, and completed postgraduate training in Paediatrics in Ireland and later a Neonatal Fellowship at McGill University Health Centre, Montreal. He is the inaugural Horgan Chair in Neonatology at University College Cork, a neonatologist at Cork University Maternity Hospital and is clinical lead at the INFANT Research Centre UCC.
Prof. Dempsey is a member of a number of international collaborations conducting randomised trials on different aspects of neonatal care. He leads a number of local clinical studies, supervising PhD students and junior doctors on many aspects of newborn medicine including cardiovascular support and the newborn microbiome. He is a member of a number of international organisations including the European Society of Paediatric Research, European Neonatal Echo Working Group, European NIRS Working group and Pharmacology section of the European Society for Paediatric Research.
Prof. Dempsey has been awarded a number of Higher Degrees, including a doctorate for work on hypotension in the preterm infant, an MSc in Health Care Ethics and Law and an MA in Teaching and Learning, focused on simulation based procedural care. He has over 200 publications in newborn care.
Dr Jimmy Devins
Prof. Patrick Dillon
Professor Patrick Dillon has held the role of Consultant Anaesthetist at University Hospital Limerick for over 20 years. He is former Head of the Department of Anaesthesia, and in 2020 was appointed Associate Clinical Director of the Anaesthesia, Theatres and Intensive Care directorate. With 30 years clinical experience in internal medicine and anaesthesia, he has expertise across a broad range of subspecialities and a particular interest in opthalmic anaesthesia and paediatric ENT. From 2000-2021, he sat on the Research Ethics Committee at the University of Limerick Hospitals, which he chaired for six years. Prior to his current role, Patrick was a visiting instructor and attending anesthesiologist at the Department of Anesthesiology, University of Michigan (1997-98), where he specialised in vascular surgery, liver transplant surgery and paediatrics at consultant level. Previous to this, he spent several years as a senior registrar in anaesthesia at a number of hospitals in Manchester. In 2019, Patrick was appointed as Adjunct Clinical Professor at the Graduate Medical School, University of Limerick. Among his memberships, he sits on the steering committee of the anaesthesia section of the Sylvester O’Halloran meeting and is a former council member of a wide range of committees, including the IHCA and the Blood Transfusion Committee. Patrick is originally from Belfast and qualified in medicine from Trinity College Dublin in 1986.
Prof. Austin Duffy
Austin Duffy is a consultant medical oncologist at The Mater Hospital and Associate Professor of Translational Oncology at UCD. Between 2006 and 2017 he was based in the US, initially at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), New York and then the National Cancer Institute (NCI), Washington DC, where he started a translational programme in gastrointestinal (GI) cancers.
Between 2008 and 2017, Professor Duffy developed and led over 25 early-phase clinical trials including the first-in-human combination of immune checkpoint inhibition with loco-regional treatment for hepatocellular carcinoma. In 2016 he was awarded a National Cancer Institute Director’s Award for Innovation in cancer research before returning to Ireland as a consultant medical oncologist. His research interests are in immune-based approaches for liver cancer and improving access to novel early-phase experimental options for Irish patients.
He is Chair of the Gastrointestinal Malignancies subgroup for Cancer Trials Ireland and is a member of both the NCI Global Expert Committee on Hepatobiliary Malignancies and the Society of Immunotherapy for Cancer (SITC) expert panel on Liver Cancer.
Mr Gerard Eastwood
Dr Geraldine Foley
Dr Geraldine Foley is Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy at the School of Medicine, Trinity College Dublin (TCD), where she also coordinates the MSc on Cancer Survivorship. Geraldine’s research specialises in life-limiting illness, with a focus on stakeholder needs and care preferences in palliative care, neuropalliative care, neurodegenerative disease and neurorehabilitation. She currently serves as Deputy Chair of the Faculty of Health Sciences Research Ethics Committee at TCD. In 2011 she was the recipient of a Health Research Board (HRB) Research Fellowship for healthcare professionals, and from 2011-14 she was a HRB Research Fellow in the School of Social Work & Social Policy at TCD. Previous to this, she collaborated on a HRB Interdisciplinary Capacity Enhancement research programme (2012-15). Prior to joining TCD, Geraldine was a clinical specialist occupational therapist (2006-11) and a senior occupational therapist (2001-06) in neurology at Beaumont Hospital, Dublin. Geraldine has presented her work at multiple fora, including the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis/Motor Neurone Disease International Symposia and the World Congress of the European Association for Palliative Care. As a member of the National Neuroscience Steering Group of the Health Service Executive, her work resulted in the reconfiguration of neurology services in Ireland. Geraldine is currently co-investigator on a HRB research award that maps out care needs for those with Parkinson's Disease in Ireland, and is an expert reviewer for Cancer Research UK, the EU Joint Programme for Neurodegenerative Disease Research, and the Ministry of Health Singapore. Among her memberships, she sits on the European Association for Palliative Care and is Associate Editor/Editorial Board member of BMC (BioMed Central) Palliative Care. An alma mater of TCD, Geraldine earned a PhD by research in 2014. She joins the committee with a view to supporting the collective infrastructure for health research in Ireland.
Prof. Catherine Hayes
Professor Catherine Hayes joined Trinity College Dublin (TCD) as Associate Professor in Public Health/Specialist in Public Health Medicine in 2011. A medical graduate of University College Cork, Catherine subsequently completed higher specialist training in public health medicine and later earned a Doctorate in Medicine from University College Dublin. Prior to her current role, Catherine was a Specialist in Public Health Medicine at the Eastern Health Board (now the Health Service Executive) from 1995-2011. An active researcher and experienced population health trial methodologist, Catherine’s research addresses the impact of research outcomes on health services and policy using the science of dissemination and implementation. She has generated over €2.2m in research grant funding and leads a multidisciplinary team of national and international researchers within the ‘We Can Quit2’ smoking cessation intervention pilot trial for disadvantaged women in Ireland, and is Co-Principal Investigator on a number of other projects. Among her memberships, she is President-Elect of the UK and Ireland Society for Social Medicine and Population Health; Chair of the KARMA-DEP-(2) Trial Steering Committee; and a mentor for the TCD Women in Leadership programme. She is also a former member of the School of Medicine Research Ethics Committee at TCD, and former Vice-Dean and board member of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (RCPI). In addition to her teaching and research responsibilities, she is a trainer and examiner for the Faculty of Public Health Medicine at RCPI. Catherine was motivated to join the committee to share her experience of conducting community-based research and streamline the ethics process to support clinical research and prioritise patient interests.
Prof. Tina Hickey
Dr Tina Hickey is Associate Professor Emeritus at the School of Psychology, University College Dublin (UCD) and an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society. She earned an MA in psychology from UCD and a PhD in psycholinguistics from the University of Reading in 1987, and has more than 150 publications in areas including language acquisition, early years education, bilingualism, reading and family literacy support, the psychosocial adaptation of international students and health psychology. Tina has held a number of national and international research grants, and collaborated with researchers in the Universities of Bangor, Cork, Goldsmith’s, Manchester, and Minnesota. Among her memberships, she served as President of the Reading Association of Ireland and the Irish Association for Applied Linguistics, and chaired the Nominating and Appointment Committee of the International Association for the Study of Child Language. She is a former member of UCD’s Life Sciences Human Subjects’ Research Ethics Committee, and as Coordinator of Undergraduate Research Projects, she provided training for psychology undergraduates in research ethics and research design. Since her treatment for cancer, Tina has contributed as a patient advocate at IACR and Patient Voice events. She was invited to join the National Cancer Control Programme Survivorship Steering Group and has been involved in various patient voice initiatives that provide ongoing treatment plans and psychosocial supports for patients recovering from breast cancer. Tina was motivated to join NREC because of her research ethics experience, and her insight of how significantly cancer patients benefit from research-driven advances in cancer care. She believes that patient participation in research is vital in optimising outcomes and wellbeing, and is committed to promoting fully informed consent among diverse patient groups.
Dr Dervla Kelly
Dr Dervla Kelly has been a lecturer in medical education at the School of Medicine, University of Limerick (UL) since 2018. At UL, she leads the delivery of the Public Health Interventions module of the MSc in Public Health, and chairs the Education Research and Writing Group. Her teaching centres on the areas of problem-based learning, case design, curriculum review, tutor and student support, and assessment in the BMBS medical degree programme. An active researcher with an interest in medication safety within oncology, antibiotic stewardship and psychiatric medicines, Dervla currently leads projects that explore ways to teach social accountability to health professionals. Among her memberships, Dervla sits on the Irish Network of Medical Educators and participated in the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland’s Standards Advisory Group as an academic representative advisor in the development of Governance and Accountability Standards for Retail Pharmacy Businesses. Prior to her current role, Dervla was a community pharmacist from 2008 to 2012, followed by experience within the pharma industry, initially working with Bristol Myers Squibbs as a Data Coordinator and later with Pfizer as a Health Outcomes Specialist. Dervla earned a PhD in epidemiology from Trinity College Dublin in 2016, and went on to join New York University as a postdoctoral researcher from 2016-2018.
Ms Muireann O'Briain
Muireann O Briain is a lawyer who has spent much of her career working in the area of human rights. Prior to her retirement from full-time work in 2017, Muireann held the position of Legal and Insurance Manager at St James’s Hospital (2004-17), where she was secretary to the board (2013-17) and responsible for the management of legal cases, legal advice and supervision of documentation for clinical trials. Prior to this, Muireann was CEO of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (2002-03) and from 1995-2005, she worked for ECPAT International, a global network of organisations that seek to end the sexual exploitation of children. During this time, Muireann also provided consultancy services to Save the Children (Norway); Defence for Children International (Netherlands); the World Tourism Organisation (Spain); and UNICEF (Moldova). Muireann was Executive Director of ECPAT International at the organisation’s headquarters in Bangkok, Thailand, from 1998-2002. Among her memberships, she sat on the European Commission Expert Group on Trafficking in Human Beings (2008-11) and was a board member with Plan Ireland; the Irish Centre for Parentally Abducted Children; and the Irish National Committee for UNICEF. In addition, she has carried out pro bono work for ECPAT Ireland; Amnesty International (Ireland); the American Association for the International Commission of Jurists; and the KSP Foundation based in the Netherlands. Muireann earned a Bachelor of Civil Law from the National University of Ireland in 1965 and qualified as a barrister from King’s Inn in 1967. She practiced as a barrister in Ireland for over 20 years and as Senior Counsel from 1994-1998. Muireann was motivated to join the committee to continue her contribution to public service in Ireland.
Dr John O’Loughlin
Dr John O’Loughlin is the former Chief Medical Scientist at the Cellular Pathology Department, Tallaght University Hospital (1997-2017). In 1997, he was involved in the commissioning of the Laboratory Medicine Department at Tallaght Hospital prior to its opening in 1998. Previous to this, he was a Senior Medical Scientist at the Mater Misericordiae Hospital (1984-97); and a Medical Laboratory Scientist at Jervis Street Hospital (1977-84). Throughout his 40-year career, John has been a member of a number of hospital committees and research ethics committees. He has also been a longstanding part-time lecturer in Cellular Pathology at the Dublin Institute of Technology (now Technological University Dublin), where he guided and supervised students at undergraduate, MSc and PhD level. An alma mater of University College Cork, John earned a MSc in Cellular Pathology in 1982 and later completed a PhD in breast cancer cytogenetics in 2002. Following this, he completed several research projects relating to his doctoral thesis. John joins the committee with a strong belief in the importance of transparency and informing research participants on the purpose of medical research, the procedures involved, and the potential risks and prospective benefits. In addition to his professional achievements, John is actively involved in his local golf club close to his hometown of Malahide, County Dublin, where he currently holds the role of Club Children’s Officer and is former Club Captain.
Ms Evelyn O’Shea
Evelyn O’Shea currently works as Quality, Risk and Patient Safety Manager at Naas General Hospital, Co Kildare. She is a guest lecturer at the Discipline of Radiation Therapy, School of Medicine, Trinity College Dublin and a reviewer for ‘Radiography’ – journal of the Society & College of Radiographers and the European Federation of Radiographer Societies.
Evelyn obtained a Research Master’s Degree in Clinical Medicine, a Postgraduate Diploma in Statistics and an Honours Bachelor of Science Degree in Therapeutic Radiography from Trinity College. She also has a Diploma in Quality Improvement from the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland and a Quality & Patient Safety Certificate from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI).
Evelyn is a member of the Irish Institute of Radiography and Radiation Therapy (IIRRT) and a former member of Irish Cancer Society's Medical Committee (2006-2011). She has won numerous awards for her research and quality improvement work. Her key interests are in quality, risk and patient safety, clinical research, clinical trials, quality improvement, quality assurance and radiation oncology.
Ms Ann Twomey
Ann Twomey is a Public and Patient Involvement (PPI) advocate who works to expand the range of supports and services for carers of people living with dementia. She has spent ten years raising awareness of the importance of research into early diagnosis of dementia and advancement of treatment options, as well as lobbying for implementation of the National Dementia Strategy. A former carer for her late husband who had vascular dementia, Ann later co-founded Kinsale Community Response to Dementia (K-CoRD) as part of the HSE & Genio Dementia Programme (2012–18). Funded by Atlantic Philanthropies in partnership with the Health Service Executive Ireland (HSE), the programme included 13 dementia projects across Ireland that developed and tested a range of personalised supports and services to help people with dementia continue to lead self-determined lives at home, and connected with their families, neighbours and community for as long as possible. As a director on the programme, Ann led in the area of assistive technology and attended the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing in Brussels (2012-15). Among her memberships, Ann sits on the board of the Alzheimer Society of Ireland and is a member of the Dementia Carers Campaign Network. She also sits on the National Advisory Steering Group to the HSE National Dementia Office; the HRPA Patient Forum; and the Advocates Advisory Board of the Dementia Research Network Ireland at the Mercer Institute, St James’s Hospital, Dublin. In addition to her PPI responsibilities, Ann delivers an annual lecture on ‘The Carer’s Role’ to students studying dementia and clinical psychology at University College Cork.
Prof. John Wells
Professor John Wells is Dean of the School of Health Sciences at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) and chairs WIT’s Research Ethics Committee. He is a Fellow Ad Eundem of the Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery at Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland; a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing; and a Marie Skladowska-Curie Senior International Fellow. John is also a Visiting Professor of Nursing at the University of London, and at the University of Maribor, Slovenia. He has received national and EU project funding of over €9 million either as a principal or co-investigator, and has authored 85 peer-review publications. He has also served on a number of regulatory and advisory bodies including the Department of Health and Children Committee for the Implementation of the National Nursing Research Strategy (2007-08); the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (2012-15); and the Human Rights Committee at the Brothers of Charity (2010-15). His research interests include occupational stress/maladaptive coping amongst health and social care workers, and employment of people with mental health problems. John has a PhD in nursing from King's College London (2004) and a MSc in Care Policy and Management from London Guildhall University (1998). He initially trained as a mental health nurse, before specialising in clinical management at the Maudsley and Bethlem Hospital, and at the Springfield Hospital in London. He took up his first academic appointment as a lecturer in mental health nursing at the Maudsley Hospital School of Nursing in 1991, followed by an appointment at the University of London in 1993, before moving to Ireland in 1998. John joins the committee with a deep commitment to ethical governance and safeguarding patients’ rights, particularly those of vulnerable adults with intellectual disabilities, refugees, and the socially and economically marginalised.