Prof. Barry O'Sullivan
Prof. Cathal O’Donnell
Professor Cathal O’Donnell has held the role of Clinical Director of the National Ambulance Service (NAS) since 2011. Prior to joining NAS, Cathal was a Consultant in Emergency Medicine at University Hospital Limerick (2005-11) and previous to this, he completed a Clinical Fellowship in Emergency Medical Services at the University of Toronto (2004-05), where he worked with both Toronto Emergency Medical Service and the Ontario Air Ambulance Base Hospital Programme. Having graduated in medicine from University College Cork in 1995, Cathal completed emergency medicine training in a number of hospitals in Dublin and Cork. In 2017 he was appointed Adjunct Clinical Professor at the Graduate Entry Medical School, University of Limerick, and within his area of expertise, he is a member of a number of national and international groups and committees. Through his work with NAS, Cathal has extensive experience of how medical devices can improve patient assessment, treatment, and outcomes, as well as unique insight of the importance of rigorous medical device evaluation at a national health system level. As Deputy Chairperson, Cathal was motivated to join the committee to contribute to an environment where the highest standards of medical device research can flourish in Ireland and allow patients to benefit from medical device innovation. Outside of NAS, Cathal is a keen amateur genealogist and also chairs the Adare Camogie Club, County Limerick, where he provides pitch-side medical care to a number of local sports teams. He is also a founding member of the Adare Community First Responder Group.
Prof. Mary Sharp
Professor Mary Sharp is a Visiting Research Fellow at the School of Computer Science and Statistics, Trinity College Dublin (TCD), where she held the role of Assistant Professor for over 28 years. Mary is former chair and current member of the School Ethics Committee at TCD, where she also sits on the Faculty Ethics Committee and the College Research Ethics and Policy Committee. With a distinguished career in health informatics spanning over 30 years, she is currently the Irish delegate on both the International Medical Informatics Association and the European Federation of Medical Informatics. Within Ireland, she was appointed as member of the HPRA’s Medical Devices Committee by the Minister for Health for a ten-year period (2001-11). Mary is a fellow of both Engineers Ireland and the Irish Computer Society. At Engineers Ireland, she chairs the Ethics and Disciplinary Board and is former chair of the Biomedical Division, and within the Irish Computer Society, Mary is an executive member of the Health Informatics Society of Ireland. She also sits on the Health Informatics Standards Committees on Safety, Security and Quality under the National Standards Authority of Ireland. Since 1995, Mary has a been a regular EU evaluator of research grant applications in the area of information technology in healthcare, and in 2008, she was appointed to the European Commission body responsible for the evaluation of the ethical aspects of ongoing project funding across all programmes in the EU. Alongside her responsibilities, Mary chairs the board of the Credit Union, and is former Honorary Secretary of the Leinster Cricket Union, a role she held for 18 years. An alma mater of Trinity College Dublin, Mary earned a degree in Computer Science in 1988 and later joined the Department of Medicine and Surgery at University College Dublin as a biochemistry researcher. Mary brings her expertise and experience to the NREC-MD in her capacity as Deputy Chairperson.
Dr Caitriona Cahir
Dr Caitriona Cahir is a lecturer at the Data Science Centre (DSC), Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), which seeks to improve human health and quality of life by applying a rigorous and innovative approach to the design, analysis and reporting of health research studies. Within her role, Caitriona lectures in research methods and biostatistics at postgraduate and undergraduate level; supervises postdoctoral, PhD, Masters and undergraduate students; and provides consultancy research support to RCSI researchers, departments and faculties. Prior to this, she worked as a Senior Research Fellow on a Health Research Board (HRB) Research Leaders Award in Statistical Epidemiology (2016-20) which investigated quality, safety and adherence to medication in primary and secondary care settings. Previously, she was a Research Officer in the Social Research Division at the Economic and Social Research Institute (2015-16) and a HRB Interdisciplinary Capacity Enhancement postdoctoral research fellow at Trinity College Dublin (2012-15), where she investigated novel approaches to cancer prevention, treatment and cost in conjunction with the National Cancer Registry of Ireland and the National Centre for Pharmacoeconomics. Among her memberships, Caitriona is a partner in the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Health Ageing, Action Group 1 which aims to improve adherence to medical plans and medication at a European level and develop innovative tools and applications to promote health literacy and patient empowerment. Caitriona holds a HRB Scholars PhD in Health Services Research (Epidemiology), a Postgraduate Higher Diploma in Psychology, and a degree in Economics. As her research is multidisciplinary in nature, including vulnerable research participants, older adults and/or those with chronic conditions, Caitriona joins the committee with an acute awareness of the need to protect the safety and wellbeing of clinical research participants.
Dr Owen Doody
Dr Owen Doody is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Nursing and Midwifery at the University of Limerick (UL). Owen is a teaching award winner, having represented the faculty in the University Teaching Awards. His teaching focuses on intellectual disability, research and practice development in nursing and midwifery. At UL, he is a member of the Health Research Institute which focuses on convergent and translational health research to enhance the health and wellbeing of individuals and transform the health environment. Owen has also been involved in national projects related to intellectual disability, nursing, leadership, and older adults. Prior to joining UL, he spent over 10 years caring for children and adults with an intellectual disability at the Daughters of Charity in Limerick, initially as an intellectual disability nurse and later, as a clinical nurse manager. Having graduated from the Royal College of Nursing at the University of Manchester in 2005, he then went on to complete a PhD in nursing at Ulster University in 2012. Owen has published two articles on ethics in research and co-authored a book on nursing and healthcare ethics, and his research interests include specialist nursing practice, community living for persons with intellectual disability, and person-centred approaches to care and service delivery. Owen is passionate about the protection and inclusion of vulnerable groups and was motivated to join the committee to ensure diverse representation on clinical trials and safeguard the wellbeing of patients. In his spare time, he is actively involved in his local community. He is the former chair and current Child Welfare Officer of his local GAA club, Bord na nÓg, in County Tipperary, and sits on the committee of a rural regional day care centre for older adults.
Dr Frank Houghton
Dr Frank Houghton is a Public Health Geographer in the Department of Applied Social Sciences at Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT). As a founding member of LIT’s Research Ethics Committee, Frank teaches research ethics to both undergraduate and postgraduate students. He also co-founded LIT’s Genders & Sexualities Research Group; is Director of one of LIT’s five research institutes; and sits on LIT’s Research & Development Academic Sub-Committee. Among his memberships, he was elected as a member of the Royal Irish Academy Geographical Sciences Sub-Committee and was Independent Chair of the Mid-West Traveller Health Forum, as well as being involved in the National Open Research Forum Open Access Working Group. Frank returned to Ireland in 2017 following a three-year career break in Spokane, Washington State, where he held the role of Associate Professor & Chair of the Department of Public Health & Health Administration at Eastern Washington University, and sat on the board of Spokane Aids Network. Frank has a long-standing research interest in the areas of health equity, spatial analysis, mental health, tobacco and alcohol control, minority health and information barriers and suppression. He was motivated to join the committee in order to help advance treatment options and overcome healthcare challenges, while balancing the highest standards in safeguards and protections. Frank earned a PhD in Health/ Medical Geography from NUI Maynooth in 2003, and later went on to complete a Masters in Population Health Evidence at the University of Manchester in 2008.
Ms Orla Lane
Orla Lane held the role of Adjunct Assistant Professor of Economics at Trinity College Dublin from 2009-19, where she taught courses in industrial economics and mathematics. Previously, Orla was a Senior Research Officer at the Policy Institute, Trinity College Dublin (2001-03), where she was Secretary to the Advisory Committee of the Policy Institute; taught and coordinated the MSc in economic policy studies; and managed the Institute’s Visiting Research Fellowship programme. From 1998-2001, Orla was an economist with the National Economic and Social Council, a statutory body that provides advice to government on strategic policy issues, and earlier in her career, she worked as an economist in the US for consulting firms DRI/McGraw-Hill and KPMG. Orla’s research interests include national and strategic issues in areas including education, the economic contribution of research and innovation, healthcare policy, and the management of public expenditure. Her motivation for joining the committee stemmed not only from her professional background, but also her personal experience of healthcare in Ireland. Living with Type 1 diabetes since her teens and a two-time cancer survivor, Orla looks forward to being an advocate for patients in Ireland by adding value to the patient experience and protecting the wellbeing of research participants. A graduate of Trinity College Dublin, Orla earned B.A. (Mod.) and M.Litt. degrees in Economics in 1991 and 1993 respectively, followed by a Diploma in Higher Educational Studies in 2016.
Mr Billy McCann
Billy McCann is a passionate patient advocate, having dedicated many years to advancing public and patient involvement. Since 2018 Billy has been a member of the National Biobank Working Group that consults with the National Adult Literacy Association (NALA); the Data Protection Officers Network; and works closely with the ‘Patient Voice in Cancer Research’ initiative hosted by University College Dublin, to inform the patient experience from a non-medical perspective. Prior to his current role, Billy was Director of the Board of the Coeliac Society of Ireland (2009-16). Following a Lymphoma diagnosis in 2015, he volunteered with the ARC Cancer Support Centre in Dublin, where he facilitated ‘Thrive and Survive’, a six-week evidence-based programme developed by Stanford University to help patients build their confidence post-cancer and inform patients on chronic disease self-management. Since 2018 Billy has been a member of the Thrive and Survive Survivorship Subgroup of the National Cancer Control Programme, which oversees the national rollout of the programme. With over ten years’ experience as an adult literacy tutor with NALA (1983-93), he is acutely aware of the importance of ensuring that information materials are written and presented in an accessible way for people with limited literacy skills. Billy holds a strong belief in the value of scientific research, informed by his own personal experience with cancer. Coming from a non-medical background, Billy is uniquely positioned to understand how ‘the average’ patient feels. He looks forward to serving patients in the best way possible, by ensuring they are provided with as much clear information as possible and involved in new research and treatment options at an early stage, all with the aim of contributing to positive patient outcomes and making a meaningful difference to scientific advancement.
Prof. Therese Murphy
Professor Thérèse Murphy is Professor at the School of Law, Queen’s University Belfast. Thérèse has more than 20 years’ experience in the design and delivery of law modules. She is particularly interested in health and human rights, including the right to science and the relationship between new technologies and human rights. Prior to joining Queen's Belfast in 2015, Thérèse was Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Economic & Social Rights Unit at the University of Nottingham. Among her memberships, she is a member of Northern Ireland's Health & Social Care Regional Clinical Ethics Forum and the UK four-nations Moral & Ethical Advisory Group of the Department of Health and Social Care in London. She is also a member of the Ethical Advisory Group established by Northern Ireland's Regulation & Quality Improvement Authority as part of the expert review of the records of the deceased patients of Dr W. More widely, she is chairperson of the European Master's in Human Rights & Democratisation, an interdisciplinary postgraduate programme sponsored by the European Commission, and sits on the governing body of the 100-university Global Campus of Human Rights. Awards for Thérèse's research have come from a range of sources. She has been a Fulbright Scholar at Harvard Law School, a Holding Redlich Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Monash University, a Visiting Research Professor at the Law & Innovation Group at Newcastle University, and both a Jean Monnet Fellow and a Fernand Braudel Senior Fellow at the European University Institute in Italy. Thérèse is a graduate of both University College Dublin and Cambridge University, and later qualified as a barrister. She is a firm believer that ethical depth is crucial to responsible research and innovation, and looks forward to bringing curiosity and commitment to her role as committee member.
Prof. Susan O’Connell
Professor Susan O’Connell is a Consultant Paediatric Endocrinologist at Children’s Health Ireland (CHI) at Crumlin, and Honorary Clinical Associate Professor at Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland (RCSI). An alumna of University College Dublin, she qualified with honours degrees in Medicine and Medical Science in 1998. She was awarded Fellowship of Royal Australasian College of Physicians in 2012 and Royal College of Physicians of Ireland in 2020. Currently, she leads the Paediatric Endocrinology CHI membership of ENDO-ERN (European Reference Network); is a committee member of the Irish Endocrine Society Endocrinology Special Interest Group; a fellow representative on the Board of Faculty of Paediatrics RCPI; and Irish representative on the Scientific Committee of the British Paediatric Surveillance Unit. She is a former member of the HSE/RCPI National Clinic Programme for Rare Diseases Working Group (2014-19) and co-authored Model of care for transition of care in rare diseases in 2019. Prior to her current role, Susan was a consultant at Cork University Hospital (2012-18), following a Fellowship in Paediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes in Perth, Australia (2009-12). She was awarded a Doctorate at Trinity College Dublin in 2009. Susan has an interest in childhood growth, rare endocrine disorders, and the use of medical devices to improve care and quality of life in children and adolescents with diabetes, and has been the principal investigator in a number of multi-centre international clinical trials. She looks forward to bringing both clinical and academic experience to the role of NREC-MD committee member, and joins the committee with the aim of raising awareness of rare conditions, use of medical devices in healthcare, and streamlining the application process for ethics review to ensure that participation in research is not only available to all, but is actively encouraged as part of healthcare delivery.
Dr Paul O’Connor
Dr Paul O’Connor is a Senior Lecturer in Primary Care and Human Factors Psychologist at the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG), where he is also Research Director of the Irish Centre for Applied Patient Safety and Simulation and Co-director of the Masters/Diploma in Patient Safety and Simulation. Paul first joined NUIG as a Senior Research Methodologist in 2010. Prior to this, he was a Medical Service Corps Officer in the U.S. Navy where he served as a Research Psychologist and Experimental Diver at the Navy Experimental Diving Unit. During his tenure, he also served as an Instructor in Aviation Psychology at the Navy/Marine Corps School of Aviation Safety and was an Assistant Professor in the Operations Research Department at the Naval Postgraduate School. Paul’s research and teaching centre on improving human performance and safety in high-risk work environments. He has worked across a range of high-risk industries including nuclear power generation, offshore oil production and military aviation and special forces. In recent years, his research and teaching have focused on the human factors that contribute to patient safety and quality of care, and he has authored over 150 publications on a range of safety and human factors issues. An alma mater of the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, he earned a PhD in Psychology in 2002. Paul joins the committee with a commitment to leverage his experience to progress patient safety and the design of medical devices through rigorous testing and evaluation to deliver effective, safe and easy to use medical devices.
Mr Damien Owens
Damien Owens is Registrar, Chief Risk Officer, and a Fellow of Engineers Ireland. A significant focus of Damien’s work involves implementing an accreditation process for engineering programmes delivered in Ireland. This involves close work across Higher Education Authorities as well as professional bodies in order to improve education on the Engineers Ireland Code of Ethics, and ensure that engineering courses in Ireland meet the highest international ethical standards. Damien represents Engineers Ireland in several international organisations. He was elected Chair of the International Engineering Alliance (2021-23); is President of the European Network for Accreditation of Engineering Education (2020-21); contributes to the EU Directive on Professional Qualifications; and is a current member of the Accreditation Board of the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers. At a national level, Damien was elected to the Council of Engineers Ireland and participates on the Irish Inter-Professional Association that works to promote the highest standards of professional practice for the public good; and is former chair of a SOLAS Technical Working Group. Prior to joining Engineers Ireland in 2010, Damien worked in the telecommunications sector, largely in the area of product development. A Chartered Engineer and alma mater of Trinity College Dublin, Damien earned a Bachelor Degree in Engineering in 1983; a Master in Engineering in 1991; and a MBA with the Open University in 2000. Damien was motivated to join the committee to share his broad experience in ethics education and professional practice, and gain a wider perspective on the intersection between technology and process, and the cultural, social and technology impacts on ethics review.
Dr Catherine O’Neill
Dr Catherine O’Neill is an independent research and educational consultant, with a particular interest in healthcare ethics and sociology. In her role, Catherine has been responsible for updating the Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics for Nurses and Midwives; carrying out an evaluation of the CLIMB® programme in Ireland; as well as reviewing the European Code of Conduct and Ethics for European Nurses. Prior to her current role, Catherine worked at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) from 2000-12, and later in Bahrain, where she was a Senior Lecturer and Director of the MSc programme for Nursing and Midwifery (2012-15), as well as Deputy Chair and Convener of the Research Ethics Committee (2014-15). Previous to this, she spent five years as a community health nurse in the Dublin area. Catherine currently sits on the Speech and Language Therapists Registration Board at CORU (Health & Social Care Professionals Council); is a fellow and former member of the RCSI Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery Board, Dublin (2015-19); and has served on various advisory committees within the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland. Catherine is a graduate of University College Dublin, having earned a PhD in Ethical Decision-Making in the Care of Older People from the School of the Sociology in 2012, and was an active member of the research consortium which developed an ethical framework for end-of-life care. As a custodian of public trust and confidence, she was motivated to join the committee to advance the research agenda in Ireland, and work collaboratively and objectively to ensure that research participants are respected and protected.
Prof. Anne Parle-McDermott
Professor Anne Parle-McDermott is Professor of Genetics at the School of Biotechnology at Dublin City University (DCU), where she is the Biotechnology Lead for Biodesign Europe. At DCU, Anne is also Principal Investigator of the Molecular Genetics Laboratory; the National Institute of Cellular Biotechnology; and the Water Institute. From 2018-20, she completed a three-year term as Head of the School of Biotechnology. Prior to first joining DCU as a Lecturer in Biotechnology in 2006, she was a Lecturer in Genetics at the Smurfit Institute of Genetics (2005-06), Trinity College Dublin; and a postdoctoral research fellow at the School of Immunology and Biochemistry (1999-2005). Among her memberships, she is former President of the Irish Society of Human Genetics and local ambassador for the Irish Biochemical Society. With over 25 years’ experience researching DNA and RNA, Anne’s extensive scientific career has been guided by producing reproducible, robust data. Her research interests include complementary areas of functional genetics as it relates to human health, and the application of DNA-based methodologies for diagnostics and biosensor development. Her team were the first to apply CRISPR-Cas technology for specific species detection from environmental DNA (eDNA) (Williams et al., 2019 Molecular Ecology Resources), enabling further development of CRISPR-Cas based biosensors to detect any target species. She also leads research on folate genetics with a focus on the DHFR gene family and mitochondrial DNA, and teaches a range of modules (Level 8 & 9) on Eukaryotic genetics, genomics and associated nucleic acid based molecular technologies. Anne is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin and earned a PhD in the area of molecular cancer at the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland in 2000. A belief that integrity and ethics are the cornerstone to scientific research are principles which she channels through her teaching and actions, and looks forward to bringing to her role as committee member.
Prof. Declan Patton
Professor Declan Patton is Director of Nursing and Midwifery Research and Deputy Director of the Skin Wounds and Trauma Research Centre at the RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences. As part of his role, Declan works closely with national and international wound care and patient safety experts, as well as with public and industry funders to develop and deliver pioneering wound care research programmes that improve patient outcomes. His work in the area of patient safety and outcomes, with a particular focus on wound care research, has been published in high-impact Q1 peer-reviewed journals. In addition to his research, Declan supervises PhD and MSc students, and has delivered new third-level educational programmes for healthcare professionals, as well as educational streams for international students. Declan earned a PhD from Staffordshire University in 2009. He also holds adjunct and honorary positions at Fakeeh College for Medical Sciences, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; the Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health at the University of Wollongong, Australia; and at Griffith University, Australia. As a member of NREC-MD, Declan looks forward to contributing to ethically sound medical device research.
Ms Riona Tumelty
Ríona Tumelty joined Tallaght University Hospital as a Senior Pharmacist for Clinical Trials in 2020. Prior to this, Ríona was a Clinical and Medicines Information Pharmacist at St. Vincent’s University Hospital from 2016 to 2020, where she provided evidence-based advice about safe use of medicines to healthcare professionals across all clinical specialities. Ríona was motivated to join the Research Ethics Committee in order to promote the safe use of medicines in clinical research and share her insights to ensure the highest standards in patient care. Ríona is a member of the Irish Institute of Pharmacy (IIOP), and more recently became an ambassador for the IIOP Mentoring Programme that advocates for mentoring within the pharmacy profession. Ríona returned to Ireland in 2016, having spent seven years studying and working in the UK where she earned a master’s degree in pharmacy from the Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen; completed her pre-registration training; and worked as a Clinical Pharmacist at the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust, Reading. Ríona has a keen interest in the end-to-end process of developing new treatments and preventive medicines, which developed during her studies at University College Dublin where she completed her BSc Pharmacology in 2009. As a pharmacist working within clinical trials, Ríona looks forward to advising on the pharmaceutical aspects of study drugs and working with the research team to provide patients with access to new medicines. In 2021, Ríona successfully completed a postgraduate certificate in clinical and translational research.
Prof. Mahandra Varma
Professor Mahendra Varma, OBE, has been a Consultant Cardiologist and Diabetologist at the Erne Hospital in Enniskillen since 1982. Throughout his distinguished medical career Mahendra has been a board member of many fora of the National Health Service (NHS) and is the former chair of several medical organisations including the British Medical Association; the Irish Cardiac Society; and the Department of Health Task Force on Sudden Cardiac Death (NI). Mahendra has also chaired the Governance Board for the Northern Ireland Chest, Heart and Stroke Association since 1990; contributed as an Expert Member on the Northern Ireland Research and Ethics Committee for over 10 years; and is a former member of the BBC NI Audience Council. In addition, he has been an examiner at both the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow; and the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland since 1988. Mahendra is a Fellow of the European Society for Cardiology; the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland; and the Irish Cardiac Society. Originally from South Africa, Mahendra came to Ireland in 1963 to study medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. Upon graduating he was awarded a MRC fellowship in medical research at Trinity College Dublin. Since qualifying in 1969, Mahendra has maintained a keen interest in research, having been involved as an investigator in landmark national and international clinical trials at the Department of Therapeutics, Queen’s University Belfast, and the Erne Hospital. Mahendra is guided by risk management, clinical governance and ethical considerations when making analytical assessments involving patient care and safety. He looks forward to bringing these same principles to his role as committee member.
Mr Peter Woulfe
Peter Woulfe is a Chartered Clinical Scientist and Chief Medical Physicist with the Galway Clinic. He is also an Honorary Adjunct Lecturer in Medical Physics at the National University of Ireland, Galway, and is currently completing his Research PhD at the University of Limerick. Peter’s studies have led to a project entitled ‘Origin’, that has the potential to dramatically reduce the risk of errors in the treatment of prostate and gynaecological cancers. The project was awarded funding of almost €5m over three years under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. It aims to deliver more effective cancer treatment through advanced real-time radiation, source localisation, and development of an optical, fibre-based sensor system that will support diagnostics-driven therapy through enhanced adaptive brachytherapy. Peter currently sits on the board of this consortium group, with project partners that include the Galway Clinic, Queen’s University Belfast, and several universities across Europe. He is also a corporate member of the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine in the UK; is former Vice-President of the Irish Association of Physicists; and works closely with the Graduate Entry Medical School at the University of Limerick to promote continued research and development within the profession. Peter is unrelenting in achieving improved outcomes for Irish patients and was motivated to join the committee to help advance clinical impact through science.