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The CHITIN Programme completed in June 2023. Final reports of the 11 CHITIN studies can be viewed on the Legacy page. The CHITIN team wish to thank the CHITIN network and all stakeholders for their involvement and commitment to the programme.

For more information on HSC R&D, please visit here


Advisory Group

Janice Bailie

Dr Janice Bailie completed a PhD in Biochemistry at Queen's University Belfast (QUB) in 1990, and post-doctoral research in Ophthalmology at QUB, and in the Radiation Science Group, Ulster University.  From 1998-2005, she was Divisional Research & Development (R&D) Manager in Molecular Biology at Randox Laboratories Ltd. 

She joined the HSC R&D Office as Programme Manager in January 2005, and has since managed a programme of infrastructure initiatives and funding awards such as the Northern Ireland Clinical Research Networks, the Northern Ireland Clinical Trials Unit, the Clinical Research Facility and the Northern Ireland Biobank.  Janice was appointed to the role of Assistant Director of HSC R&D Division, Public Health Agency, in June 2013.

Jennifer Brennan

Dr Jennifer Brennan is Director of Research, Development and Innovation 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 (MSCA) funding programme. She represents Ireland’s interests in the MSCA programme as National Delegate to the MSCA Programme Committee. Jennifer has a background in research and has worked in academia in the UK, USA and Ireland. She is particularly interested in researcher career development, gender in research, and responsible research & innovation. Jennifer is the Deputy Chair of the National Forum on Research Integrity.

Claire Collins

Claire Collins is Director of Research, Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) and has over 25 years experience conducting and teaching qualitative and quantitative research in the academic, statutory and private sectors. Since 2004 she has been the ICGP Director of Research and has responsibility for the promotion, development and implementation of research in general practice. Claire is a member of the Executive Board of the European General Practice Research Network (EGPRN) and is the current Chair of its Research Strategy Committee.  She is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland.

Maggie Cruickshank

Maggie Cruickshank is a Professor/Honorary Clinical Consultant of Gynaecology at the University of Aberdeen and Director of Research & Development for NHS Grampian. She is also Co-interim Director of the Aberdeen Centre for women’s health Research.

Her programme of research focuses on Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and pre-invasive disease of the lower genital tract,clinical research trials and molecular studies with Universities of Edinburgh, Dundee, Manchester, Nottingham and Strathclyde and NHS Scotland.  

Maggie is Chief Investigator for a CSO Health Services Programme Grant to investigate the impact of HPV immunisation on cervical screening and the role of HPV testing as a primary screening tool.

Alan Ferrett

Alan Ferrett is a Business Studies graduate and an associate member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).  He was previously a Director in a Health and Social Services Trust and has also served as a School Governor in an integrated primary school in Belfast.

Alan is a strong advocate for Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) and is currently involved in a number of PPI projects in healthcare including being involved as a work stream member taking forward the recommendations of the Hyponatraemia related deaths inquiry. 

His research interests are wide ranging from mental health issues including psychology research and the use of different therapies, issues around emergency services in health care, use of technology in the delivery of health and social care, as well as healthy living issues including the benefits of exercise and issues around obesity.

Alan has an interest in conditions concerned with ageing and is a member of the steering group, which is responsible for the NICOLA Study (a longitudinal study of ageing). He is also a panel member for appraising Enabling Research Awards and appraising Knowledge Transfer Requests.

Susan Hamer

Susan has a clinical background in nursing, and throughout her career she has worked consistently in the fields of leadership and practice development. She is experienced at designing and leading large transformational programmes in the public sector. She has a doctorate in Adult Education and a masters in Women’s Studies. Until January 2019 Susan was Director of Nursing, Learning and Organisational Development at the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network. Prior to this Susan was Director of Nursing, Department of Health Informatics Directorate, where she became increasingly passionate about the possibilities for technology to enhance practice and to support innovation. Susan is a regular writer and the author of “Achieving Evidence-Based Practice” and “Leadership and Management: A Three-Dimensional Approach”. In 2015 she was named an HSJ top Clinical Leader and a Nursing Times inspirational Leader. She was awarded the University of Leeds Women of Achievement Award in March 2016 and the IACRN Distinguished Clinical Research Nurse Award 2018. Susan has been a Fellow of the Queen’s Nursing Institute since 2004. 

Professor Bernadette (Bernie) Hannigan

Professor Bernie Hannigan is Director of Research, Translation and Innovation in Public Health England, overseeing research in collaboration with universities and other institutions, funded by UK or global organisations. Previously (2008 – 2014) Bernie was Director of R&D for Health and Social Care (Northern Ireland), preceded by academia/academic leadership (Pro Vice Chancellor, Research and Innovation) – Ulster University. Contributions to science and society included national and international boards, committees and other bodies.

Bernie was educated at Trinity College Dublin  (Natural Sciences) with a PhD from  the National University of Ireland (Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland; Immunology). Bernie has led or been part of research teams that authored over 100 academic papers and two text books, she has supervised 20 PhD students and attracted significant competitive funding.


Gráinne McVeigh

Gráinne McVeigh is Director of Life Sciences and Scaling at Invest NI, Northern Ireland’s economic development agency, responsible for promoting and developing companies in these sectors to compete internationally and encourage new investment. Previously Grainne was Director of Northern Irish Connections, a not-for-profit organisation, which provides a structured approach for engagement with the Northern Irish diaspora. In her career at Invest NI, Gráinne held the position of Head of International Sales and Marketing where she led Invest NI’s international sales and marketing effort with the overall objective of identifying and cultivating inward investment leads in overseas markets.

Before joining Invest Northern Ireland, Gráinne worked for SkillSoft Corporation, an online learning company where she managed global accounts. This involved working with SkillSoft’s largest customers, providing online learning solutions to Fortune 500 companies. She was responsible for selling eLearning solutions in a high technology environment, client management and project management, involving the management of client relationships during complex implementations. Before working with SkillSoft, Gráinne worked for the Industrial Development Board (IDB) and was the VP Business Development in Chicago responsible for selling Northern Ireland as an investment location. 

Gráinne has a degree in French from Lancaster University and an MBA in International Business from Ulster University. Gráinne also holds a Diploma in Marketing and a Diploma in Personnel Management. 

Oonagh Meade

Oonagh is a postdoctoral researcher with the Health Behaviour Change Research Group, NUI Galway and she is currently the lead postdoctoral researcher on a Health Research Board funded project aiming to optimise and scale-up the implementation of the 'Making Every Contact Count' chronic disease prevention programme in Ireland. 

Oonagh’s research interests are in the management of long-term physical and mental health conditions; the development and evaluation of health behaviour change interventions; and Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) in research. 

Oonagh is a PPI Catalyst with the PPI Ignite Programme at NUI Galway. In this role she provides training and support to researchers and students in PPI. Oonagh has published in the area of PPI and is PPI lead on a number of health behaviour change research projects.


Derick Mitchell

Dr. Derick Mitchell is the Chief Executive of  The Irish Platform for Patient Organisations, Science and Industry (IPPOSI). Derick has over 10 years experience working in patient involvement, multi-stakeholder management, scientific communications and advocacy at both national and European level, and has a strong interest in the area of patient and public involvement in research. 

Derick leads IPPOSI’s participation in the European Patients Academy (EUPATI), an initiative which is training patients to become involved in the medicines R&D process, and has spread the IPPOSI public-private partnership model to over 20 countries. Derick is a member of a number of national and international boards including the EHealth Ireland committee; the oversight committee for the National Rare Disease Plan; the Medical and Life Sciences Committee of the Royal Irish Academy, the International Advisory Board of the HRB-Trials Methodology Research Network; the HIQA Research Ethics & HTA Advisory Boards, among others.  Derick graduated with a BSc. (Hons) in Biotechnology from NUI Galway (2000) followed by a PhD in Molecular Medicine from University College Dublin (2004). Outside of IPPOSI, Derick spends his free time attempting to influence his two young daughters.

Edel O'Doherty

Edel O’Doherty has worked in the area of planning, development and implementation of cross border collaboration in health and social care for over 13 years.  She has a wide range of interests and expertise including tackling health inequalities, mental health, promoting health improvement, primary care and community development. 

Edel is the Executive lead on behalf of Cooperation and Working Together (CAWT) on the EU INTERREG VA Innovation Recovery and mPower (PCOP).  She is also supporting the CAWT Interoperability Group which seeks to align cross border transfer of patient information with the EU Interoperability Framework.  Edel holds an MA in Marketing Management, a Post Graduate Diploma in Health Promotion, Diploma in Workplace Health and Prince2 Practitioner Diploma. 

Maurice O'Kane

Dr Maurice O’Kane graduated in medicine at Edinburgh University and has been a consultant chemical pathologist in Altnagelvin Hospital since 1996. He is currently Director of the Northern Ireland Clinical Research Network and also Clinical Director of the Centre for Personalised Medicine: Clinical Decision Making and Patient Safety (funded by Interreg). Previous roles have included Director of Research at the Western Health and Social Care Trust and Chief Executive of the Clinical Translational Research and Innovation Centre (C-TRIC). 

Roger O'Sullivan

Professor Roger O’Sullivan is Director of the Institute of Public Health in Ireland (IPH). He is also Director of the Ageing and Research Development Division within IPH. In 2016 he was made visiting Professor at Ulster University. Between  2007 – 2015, Roger was Director of The Centre of Ageing and Research Development in Ireland.

Peter Sharpe

Dr Peter Sharpe has been a Consultant Chemical Pathologist in the Southern Health and Social Care Trust for the past 20 years. His main clinical interests are lipids, nutrition and diabetes.  Dr Sharpe is Chair of the Trust’s Point of Care Testing Committee and has been the Trust’s Associate Medical Director for Research and Development since July 2008. Dr Sharpe provides Pathology advice to the Chief Medical Officer in the Department of Health NI.

Eileen Wright

Eileen's background is mainly in Finance and Education where she has been a company director for 25 years and a former member of the Institute of Directors.   Eileen has held a number of appointments in education including: membership of the Southern Education and Library Board and Vice Chairman of the Finance Committee, 17 years as Chairman of the Board of Governors of Banbridge Academy, member of the Board of Governors of  Ballydown Primary School in Banbridge, and member of the Governing Body of the Southern Regional College.

Eileen has served as a Lay Reviewer with the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) and was part of the training process.  She is also a member of the Board of Directors of Banbridge District Enterprises.

In September 2003, Eileen was appointed as a member of the Southern Health & Social Services Council and was serving as Chairman when it was subsumed into the Patient Client Council; where she was a member of the Project Board for the new organisation. Other lay members roles Eileen holds are: R&D Governance Committee of the Southern Trust and also of the regional body and Lay Member of the All Ireland Institute of Hospice and Palliative Care Governance Committee. She is also a volunteer in Craigavon Area Hospital and Southern Area Hospice.

Eileen is committed to representing the view and involvement of users of services in all aspects of health and social care and in education.  

Ian Young

Ian Young is currently Chief Scientific Advisor to the Department of Health and Director of Research and Development (R&D) for Health and Social Care.  In addition, he is Professor of Medicine at Queen’s University Belfast, where he was also Director of the Centre for Public Health from 2008-2014, and Deputy Medical Director and Consultant Chemical Pathologist at Belfast Health and Social Care Trust.  Professor Young’s main clinical and research interests are in biochemical aspects of nutrition, particularly in relation to disease prevention.  He is an author of over 350 published research papers and has obtained over £30 million in research income. He is Chair of the Scientific Division of the International Federation for Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine, the world’s leading laboratory medicine organization, and Associate Editor of Clinical Chemistry, the journal of the American Association for Clinical Chemistry. He is a member of the UK Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition, and the Scientific Advisory Board of the National Institute of Biological Standards and Controls.

The CHITIN Advisory Group (CAG) is a cross-border collaborative group whose main role is to provide advice and support to the CHITIN Project Management Group (PMG) about how best to achieve its aims. The group also advise on specific issues related to CHITIN and its 11 trials. CAG members meet bi-annually and include healthcare professionals, industry, Patient & Public Involvement (PPI) and academia.  The CAG Terms of Reference can be viewed here