Featured speakers during the Creating Our Future event are listed below. 

Dr Mairéad O’Driscoll

Dr Mairéad O’Driscoll was appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Health Research Board (HRB) in 2020, where she oversees an annual investment of €45m in health research activity, an awards portfolio of approximately €200m and leads a staff of 75 people.

Before being appointed CEO, Mairéad held a number of different roles in the HRB, including Director of Funding, as well as Head of Policy, Evaluation and External Relations. Prior to joining the HRB, Mairéad worked as a researcher in both academia and industry before moving into policy research, initially with the Royal Society in London, and later with the Wellcome Trust. She also spent time in South Africa where she worked on the development of a national research and technology foresight study.

She is a member of several national and international groups, including the Executive Committee of International Consortium for Personalised Medicine (ICPerMed), which she chaired for two years. Mairéad is a graduate of both Trinity College Dublin and the University of London.

Frank Feighan T.D., Minister of State

Frank Feighan T.D. is a Minister of State at the Department of Health with responsibility for Public Health, Wellbeing and the National Drug Strategy. Minister Feighan represents the Sligo, Leitrim, North Roscommon and South Donegal Dáil Constituency, he is a former chair of the Joint Oireachtas Good Friday Implementation Committee and a member of the British Irish Parliamentary Assembly. 

Dr Jennifer Brennan

Dr Jennifer Brennan is a member of the Creating Our Future Campaign Steering Committee; and is Director of Research, Innovation and Engagment at the Technological Higher Education Association (THEA). Prior to joining THEA, Jennifer was Ireland’s National Contact Point for the European Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions funding programme. Jennifer has a background in research and has worked in academia in the UK, US and Ireland. She is particularly interested in researcher career development, gender in research, Open Research, and responsible research & innovation. Jennifer is Deputy Chair of the National Forum on Research Integrity and Chair of the Athena SWAN Ireland finance committee.

Dr Kevin Smith

Dr Kevin Smith, KSG is President & CEO of University Health Network, Canada’s largest academic health sciences centre and one of the top 10 hospitals in the world (as named by Newsweek). Dr Smith has spent his career at the interface of the University and Research Hospital and is passionately committed to the mission of education, research and exemplary clinical care. During his career, he has overseen the investment of $7 billion in research infrastructure, and is a pioneer in advancing integrated care models spanning the continuum of health and social services.

Dr Smith is a Professor at the Institute for Medical Sciences, Department of Medicine, Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation (IHPME), Rotman School of Management and at the De Groote School of Medicine, Department of Medicine, McMaster University.

Educated in Canada, the U.S. and the UK, he began his career in medical education, followed by leadership roles in university administration, academic hospitals and health systems. He is professionally certified in Corporate Governance by the Institute of Corporate Directors and the Harvard Program in Effective Governance, and completed the Wharton School CEO Program for Health Care Leadership.

Dr Smith has been the recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Silver and Golden Jubilee Medals and was deeply honoured to be made a Knight of St. Gregory by the Pope for his long term contributions to health care. Among his many leadership roles, he has served as former Chair of the Council of Academic Hospitals of Ontario; Chair of The Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Ontario Hospital Association and as a frequent advisor to governments and the private sector.

Dr Andrew Boozary

Dr Andrew Boozary is a primary care physician and Executive Director, Population Health and Social Medicine at the University Health Network. He holds academic appointments as an assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation (IHPME) at the University of Toronto and as an adjunct faculty member at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. Dr Boozary is the founding editor-in-chief of the Harvard Public Health Review and has published in top academic journals including JAMA, BMJ and Health Affairs. Dr Boozary completed his medical training at the University of Toronto and health policy training at Princeton University (Master in Public Policy) and Harvard University (Master of Science). He has maintained active research as a Visiting Scientist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and is a Senior Fellow at the Wellesley Institute.

At UHN, Dr Boozary is working to develop, evaluate and scale new models of healthcare delivery for patients with complex health and social needs. During this pandemic, he also serves as co-lead of the Ontario Health Toronto Region COVID-19 Homelessness Response and is a member of the Canadian Medical Association's Post-Pandemic Expert Advisory Group. Prior to joining UHN, Dr Boozary served in senior advisory roles in the provincial and federal government on public policy issues ranging from primary care reform to the implementation of pharmacare.

Sharon Gray

Sharon Gray is Research Manager on the Identification team at the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Evaluations Trials and Studies Coordinating Centre (NETSCC), based at the University of Southampton, which funds and manages evaluation research for the NIHR.

NETSCC manages research programmes, whose remits cover health and social care technology assessment, health and care services delivery and public health.

Sharon works in the Identification team, which engages with professional and patient/public stakeholders across the UK's National Health Service (NHS), social care and public health to identify and prioritise important research questions. 

Anne Lawlor

Anne Lawlor is a founding member and chairperson of the 22q11 Ireland Support Group. The organisation was set up in 2007 to support families affected by 22q Deletion Syndrome, and works in partnership with healthcare professionals for better coordination of care for those affected by 22q and other complex care conditions.

Anne networks extensively with families, national and international researchers, clinicians, and mental healthcare professionals in her dedication to raising awareness of 22qDS. She has been recognised for her ability to connect people together and is well known both in Ireland and overseas as a true rare disease advocate and driver of change. In 2017 she was the recipient of the Global Genes Rare Champion of Hope Award and accepted two Charity Impact Awards on behalf of 22q11 Ireland. 

Anne holds a Masters in Management of Community and Voluntary Groups, and works in a voluntary capacity with 22q11 Ireland. She lives in Dublin with her daughter Áine aged 38 who was diagnosed with 22qDS when she was 15 years of age.