Featured speakers during the 2021 HRB Ones2Watch conference 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.

Professor Frank Miedema

Professor Frank Miedema is Vice-Rector for Research at Utrecht University, Netherlands; and Chair of the Utrecht University Open Science Program. Frank was one of the leaders of the Science in Transition initiative that launched in 2013. It worked to raise awareness of the need for fundamental reform of the academic incentive and reward system, and promoted the understanding that impact on society must be more valued and societal stakeholders more integrally involved in the production of knowledge. His new book titled Open Science, the very idea will be published with open access by Springer Nature later this year. It describes recent developments in science and the Transition to Open Science from a historical, sociological, philosophical, and personal perspective. Prior to his current role, Frank was Dean and Vice-Chair of the Executive Board of the University Medical Centre, Utrech (2009-2019); and before this, was Head of the Immunology Department at the University Medical Centre. In 1996 he was appointed Full Professor at the Academic Medical Centre at the University of Amsterdam; and in 1998, became Director of Sanquin Research, Amsterdam. From 1983 until 2004 he was a project leader in the immunovirology of HIV/AIDS as part of the Amsterdam Cohort Studies at the Central Laboratory of the Blood Transfusion Service (now Sanquin Research). Frank is a graduate in biochemistry from the University of Groningen, where he specialised in immunology with a minor in the Philosophy of Science. He obtained a PhD from the University of Amsterdam in 1985.

Dr Anne Costello

Dr Anne Costello is a Project Officer at the HRB, where she is responsible for the administration of funding calls within the HRB health research careers portfolio for academic researchers. The portfolio spans across all career stages, from undergraduate, PhD and postdoctoral, to independent investigator stages and leadership level. It includes summer student scholarships and postdoctoral research fellowships, as well as emerging investigator and research leader awards. Anne holds a PhD in Medical Microbiology with a specific focus in cystic fibrosis pathogenicity from Technological University Dublin (TUD) (formerly ITT, Dublin). Before moving into research funding, Anne was an academic and researcher. She carried out postdoctoral research in oncology at University College Dublin, and was formerly a lecturer at TUD and Nanjing University of Technology in Nanjing, China. Anne has worked and published with international and national collaborators. She has served as a peer reviewer for BMC Journals and is currently an external examiner for TUD.

Professor Zofia Chrzanowska-Lightowlers

Professor Zofia Chrzanowska-Lightowlers is a founding member of the Wellcome Centre for Mitochondrial Research at Newcastle University, UK. The centre combines clinical, diagnostic and fundamental studies on human mitochondria. As one of the two group leaders working on the basic biology of mitochondria, she has published over 100 papers on span RNA metabolism, gene expression in human mitochondria, and how this is altered under disease conditions. In addition to her research group and PhD students, Zofia is Deputy Degree Director of the MRes programme that registers over 200 students each year into a suite of research master's courses. She recently stepped down as Director of the Institute of Neuroscience at Newcastle University and since the faculty reorganisation, now Co-Leads the Centre for Research Excellence in Transformative Neuroscience. After earning her PhD, Zofia received the Sir Henry Wellcome Commemorative Award for Innovative Research, followed by a Wellcome Trust Career Development Fellowship. She has subsequently received continuous Wellcome Trust funding in addition to grants from the EU, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Medical Research Council (MRC), the Royal Society, and the Pathological Society.

Dr Sarah E. Barry

Dr Sarah E. Barry is Assistant Professor of Health Services Management at Trinity College Dublin, where she is Director of the Centre for Health Policy and Management, and Director of the MSc in Health Services Management. She is also Co-Director of the HRB funded SPHeRE programme, Ireland’s national research training programme for population health and health services research. Sarah’s research on integrated care implementation in complex health and social care systems addresses health services reform policy, development, and design. As a senior researcher, she has completed projects for the Health Service Executive (HSE), the Centre for Effective Services (CES), and M.CO. Sarah currently sits on the Performance and Delivery Committee of the HSE Board, and is a key contributor to many national research projects including the HRB funded RESTORE programme, which examines health system resilience in the face of crisis, as well as the foundations for Sláintecare implementation. She was a member of the Trinity team who advised the All Party Oireachtas Committee on the Future of Healthcare in Ireland, that led to the production of the Sláintecare Report in 2017.

Dr Alex Eustace

Dr Alex Eustace is an award-winning translational oncology scientist holder. He is a current recipient of the Health Research Board Emerging Investigators Award, as well as the St Luke’s/ Royal Academy of Medicine Young Investigator Award. His research group studies the impact of mutations, both coding and non-coding, on therapy response and resistance. They aim to use this information as a way of identifying novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of patients with cancer. Alex’s research has been published in high-ranking journals and has a direct impact on patients with cancer, having led to the initiation of a Phase I/II clinical trial in women with HER2-positive breast cancer in Ireland.  

Dr Karen Matvienko-Sikar

Dr Karen Matvienko-Sikar is a lecturer in the School of Public Health at University College Cork (UCC), where she is also a Health Research Board Applying Research in Policy and Practice Fellow. As a health psychologist, Karen’s research focuses on the development and evaluation of interventions to improve maternal and child health outcomes. Her research interests and expertise include maternal and child health, particularly perinatal mental health and childhood obesity. Karen first joined the School of Public Health as a researcher in 2016, when she was awarded a Health Research Board Interdisciplinary Capacity Enhancement Postdoctoral Fellowship. An alma mater of UCC, Karen holds a PhD and MA in Applied Psychology.

Dr Claire O’Connell

Dr Claire O’Connell is a science communicator and freelance journalist writing for The Irish Times. She holds a PhD in Cell Biology from University College Dublin and a Master’s degree in Science Communication from Dublin City University. She is also an Adjunct Professor at UCD School of Biomolecular & Biomedical Science. She was named Irish Science Writer of the Year in 2016, and she recently wrote ‘Catching the Worm’ with Nobel Laureate and parasitologist William C. Campbell about his life and work.

Professor Seán F. Dinneen

Seán Dinneen is Professor of Diabetic Medicine at National University of Ireland, Galway; and Consultant Endocrinologist at Galway University Hospitals. He is also the National Lead for the Diabetes Clinical Programme at the Health Service Executive, and Programme Lead of a HRB/IRC funded PPI Ignite Network to increase capacity for high-quality public and patient involvement in health and social care research in Ireland. Upon graduating from medical school at University College Cork, Seán completed Internal Medicine Residency and Endocrinology sub-specialty training at the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine in Rochester, Minnesota. After a period of postgraduate training and work experience in the US (Mayo Clinic), Canada (McMaster University) and the UK (Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge), he returned to Ireland as an Academic Endocrinologist. Seán served as Head of the School of Medicine at NUI Galway (2013-16), and was part of successful bids that brought a School of Podiatric Medicine and a Clinical Research Facility to NUI Galway. His clinical research interests include developing and evaluating programmes of self-management education and support for people living with diabetes, and developing optimal models of community-based diabetes care. 

Professor Hannah McGee

Professor Hannah McGee is Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at the University of Medicine and Health Sciences, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI). As RCSI’s chief academic officer, Hannah is responsible for academic activities in Dublin and in overseas campuses in Bahrain, Dubai and Malaysia. A health psychologist and graduate of Trinity College Dublin, Hannah has also been awarded a Doctorate of Science from NUI for her published work that includes over 230 peer-reviewed publications. In 2007, she jointly led the first HRB structured programme in health services research (now SPHeRE) with Professors Ivan Perry (University College Cork) and Charles Normand (Trinity College Dublin). Among her leadership roles, Hannah has been President of the European Health Psychology Society and Chair of the European Association for Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation Committee on Rehabilitation. She is or has been a board member of the Health Research Board; the Council of the Economic and Social Research Institute; the Oversight Board of TILDA (the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing); and the National Children’s Research Centre. From 2008, she was Chair of the Ministerial Committee to develop the Irish cardiovascular health policy Changing Cardiovascular Health. In 2020, she was appointed Deputy-Chair of the National Research Ethics Committee for COVID-19 by the Minister for Health. 

Professor Ian Robertson

Ian Robertson is Professor Emeritus in Psychology at Trinity College Dublin, where he was Founding Director of Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience. Currently, Ian is Co-Director of the Global Brain Health Institute (at Trinity College Dublin and the University of California, San Francisco). A trained clinical psychologist and neuroscientist, he is internationally renowned for his research on neuropsychology. Amongst his many affiliations, Ian is a member of the Royal Irish Academy and a member of Acadamia Europea. He has written five books and numerous articles and commentary pieces in the GuardianTimesTelegraphIrish TimesTime magazine and New York magazine, among others. He has appeared on BBC Radio and featured in several major television documentaries. He is a regular speaker at major futurology and business conferences across Europe, the US and Asia. His most recent title How Confidence Works was published by Penguin in June 2021.

Jennifer O'Connell

Jennifer O'Connell is an op-ed columnist and features writer with the Irish Times, specialising in human interest stories, interviews, news and opinion. She has been a journalist for nearly 25 years, and prior to the Irish Times, worked in The Sunday Business Post, RTE, TheJournal.ie, the Independent group of newspapers, and independent TV production studios. In 2019, she presented a two-part documentary series on stress for RTE entitled Stressed, which looked at the science behind stress and burnout and its impact on our lives. She was the 2020 winner of the Headline Mental Health Media awards for National Print and Online. She is also a frequent guest on TV and radio panel shows. After stints abroad in Sydney and the San Francisco Bay Area, she came home to live in Waterford in 2016 with her husband and three children. 

Event Moderator: Dr Anne Cody

Dr Anne Cody is Head of Investigator-led Grants, Research Careers and Enablers at the Health Research Board (HRB). With a background in cell biology, Anne has spent ten years as a researcher in both Germany and Ireland. Anne has been working at the HRB in a variety of roles for almost 20 years. During this time, she has gained experience across all aspects of health research and funding instruments, working across a wide group of stakeholders. Anne has been the driver behind the HRB’s systems approach to Public, Patient and Carer Involvement (PPI) and is a steering group member of the Ensuring Value in Research Funders’ Forum. She has been actively involved in tackling unconscious bias, has initiated a number of transparency initiatives, and represents the HRB on two international groups that provide thought leadership on research culture and responsible research assessment, respectively.