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Our Staff

CEO

Dr. Avril Kennan

CEO

Avril has a PhD in genetics and many years subsequent lab experience working on human genetic conditions. In 2007, she moved to DEBRA Ireland where as Head of Research and Advocacy, she led a number of international initiatives including the development of evidence-based clinical guidelines and an international patient registry. Avril has sat on the DEBRA International Executive Committee and the Rare Diseases Ireland Board. She was one of the founders of the Irish Health Research Forum.

Operations Manager

Marie Downes

Operations Manager

Marie has a background in IT Project Management and has held management positions and led teams within Bank of Ireland Finance, EDS (now merged with HP) and AranTech (now acquired by Tektronix). Marie began working with HRCI in 2010 as the sole employee of the organisation. Marie is primarily responsible for HRCI general operations including securing core funding, managing accounts, membership management and governance.

Events and Communications Coordinator

Linda McGrath

Events and Communications Coordinator

Linda has been working in the charity sector since 2012 and specialises in event management, sponsorship acquisition, public affairs and communications. She has previously worked with the Temple Street Foundation, Dublin Simon Community and Ruhama. Prior to moving into the not for profit sector, Linda worked in Arts Management. In her role with HRCI, she manages events and conferences, the biannual Irish Health Research Forum (IHRF) meetings and HRCI Communications.

Research Manager

Michelle Gardner

Research Manager

Michelle has a background in biomedical research, having worked on the genetics of neurological and psychiatric conditions and evolutionary anthropology. She moved into research development and management in the charity sector through her work with Parkinsons UK, following post doctorate research in Barcelona and London. Michelle manages the HRCI-HRB Joint Funding Scheme on behalf of members and and develops Public and Patient Involvement in research with our Shared Learning Group.

Administration Officer

Clodagh O'Donovan

Administration Officer

Clodagh has an MSc in Multimedia Systems and has an extensive background in television, film and interactive digital media. Following this, she worked in the voluntary and charity sectors for many years, working on everything from event management and communications to fundraising and ensuring good governance. Clodagh joined MRCG in July 2018 and will be looking after general administration, along with helping to manage the Rare Disease Taskforce.

Research Support Officer

Sarah Delaney

Research Support Officer

Sarah has many years’ research experience working in the field of health and social care for older people, family carers, and people with chronic illness.  She worked with the Royal College of Surgeons conducting research on public and patient participation in health care, and care and case management for older people.  Later, as Senior Research Consultant with the Work Research Centre, she gained valuable experience in research at National and European levels, focusing on evaluating health service users’ experiences of health technologies.  She was awarded a PhD on self-management in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in September 2020.  

In her role as Research Support Officer, Sarah will be responsible for strengthening the research capacity of HRCI members, managing the HRCI/HRB Joint Funding Scheme, supporting patient and public (PPI) involvement in research and engaging with relevant bodies and organisations on all aspects of health research in Ireland.  

Link to Irish Government websiteLink to Pobal websiteLink to Health Research Board website