PhD Scholars

The HRB-TMRN has three cohorts of PhD scholars, whose research is solely focused in addressing a methodology question relevant to randomised trials.

2021 – 2026

  • Ellen Murphy
    Ellen Murphy

    Ellen is a PhD student with the HRB-TMRN based at the HRB Clinical Research Facility Cork and University College Cork. Ellen holds a first-class honour bachelor degree in Public Health from University College Cork. From 2020 to 2021 Ellen worked as a research assistant for the TRAMS (Trials Research and Methodologies Unit) in the HRB Clinical Research Facility Cork and has been involved in various research projects. Ellen is currently working as a collaborator on the HRB-TMRN / MRC-NIHR-TMRP projects titled “Understanding the language and complexity of informed consent in clinical trials and identifying participant preferences and understanding of key trial processes – randomisation” and “Trial Forge Guidance 3: Ethical issues in SWATs (Studies within a Trial)”.
    Ellen’s doctoral research is focused on the communication of retention in clinical trials. Her research consists of four pieces of work; investigating the cost of retention strategies, how retention is planned and communicated in clinical trial protocols, how retention is communicated in patient information leaflets and investigating PPI involvement in retention strategy planning and the acceptability of trial retention strategies among trial participants. The project aims to investigating how retention is communicated during the lifecycle of a clinical trial.
    She is supervised by Dr Frances Shiely (Senior Lecturer and Director of Education, HRB Clinical Research Facility, University College Cork) and Dr Katie Gillies (Director, Health Care Assessment Programme, Health Service Research Unit, University of Aberdeen).

  • Simone Lepage
    Simone Lepage

    Simone has first class honours degrees in the following: a BSc in biology from the University of South Florida an MSc in biology from Texas A&M University, a BSN from Columbia University in New York and a higher diploma in Midwifery from the National University of Ireland, Galway. She was also an Evidence Synthesis Ireland fellow for a Cochrane Systematic Review update. Simone has clinical experience in high dependency neurology nursing, and intensive care nursing. As a midwife she has practiced in early pregnancy and gynecology and the labour ward. Her research interests include improving clinical trial methodology and its implementation in health care. Simone’s project, The Kid’s Trial, will focus on teaching the power of clinical trials and their methodology by co-creating a trial with children and their parents.

  • Kathleen Hannon
    Kathleen Hannon

    Kathleen Hannon is currently a Research Assistant with the School of Nursing and Midwifery and Academic Practice at Trinity College Dublin. Kathleen obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in Visual Culture from the National College of Art and Design in 2016 and a Master of Social Science degree in Cultural Sociology from University College Dublin in 2017. Her current research has focused on maternal health.

  • Parastoo Niloofar
    Parastoo Niloofar

    Parastoo Niloofar graduated from Tehran University of Medical Sciences with an MSc in Biostatistics and also hold BSc in Statistics from the University of Tehran.  Her MSc project was about detecting the diagnostic accuracy of different tests without a gold standard. Shortly after graduation, she started working as a Biostatician in different institutes, mainly for North Khorasan University of Medical Science where has been working for the last four years.  Her research interest areas include longitudinal data analysis, diagnostic accuracy assessment, Bayesian inference and statistical neuro science. Parastoo will work with Prof John Newell, University of Galway on “Translation statistics in clinical trials”.

  • Johanna Pope
    Johanna Pope

    Johanna is a PhD student with HRB-TMRN and Evidence Synthesis Ireland, based in the School of Nursing and Midwifery at the University of Galway. Prior to coming to Galway, Johanna obtained a first-class Master of Public Health in University College Cork, and served as a research assistant in the School of Public Health, including under a COVID-19 Emergency Evidence Response Service summer scholarship. Johanna’s clinical and research experiences have focused on public use of health information; currently, her work explores vulnerability to misinformation in the Irish setting.

2017 – 2021

  • Vivienne Hanrahan
    Vivienne Hanrahan

    Vivienne is a registered midwife with the Nursing & Midwifery Board of Ireland. She holds a First Class Honours BSc Midwifery from Trinity College Dublin. Since qualifying Vivienne has practised as a midwife in the delivery suite and theatre at Rotunda Hospital Dublin. Vivienne’s interest in research lies in all areas of pregnancy, childbirth and maternity care. As a research assistant at the School of Nursing & Midwifery, Trinity College Dublin, she worked on a study using exploratory design and critical incident technique to investigate women’s perceptions of assistive factors in breastfeeding for six months. This work led to her dissertation; Breastfeeding – An Exploration of the impact of early discontinuation on mothers’ emotional wellbeing. Vivienne has a keen interest in qualitative research, trial methodology and the integration of research in practice. She is a member of the Irish Research Nurses Network, Cochrane Journal Club and Rotunda Innovation Hub.

  • Gloria Emmanuel
    Gloria Emmanuel

    Gloria Emmanuel holds a bachelor degree in Pharmacy and has extensive experience working as a pharmacist in various hospitals, community settings and clinical research organisations. She developed a fervent interest in clinical research while working in the CRO as a Pharmacovigilance Associate where she handled multiple research projects on a wide range of clinical trial designs and protocols from sites across the globe.
    She completed her Master’s degree in Clinical Research from the National University of Ireland, Galway and has also worked as a Clinical Research Associate on a large Phase 3 anticoagulant randomised controlled trial in the Clinical Research Facility, Galway. In 2016, she joined the Tissue Engineering Research Group (TERG) in the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) as the Clinical Trial Manager where she led research studies of novel scaffolds and orthobiologics in patients with symptomatic cartilage injury. Her passion for clinical research motivated her to join the HRB TMRN-TCD scholarship program in September 2018. Her research will endeavour to examine and contribute to the evidence by addressing recruitment uncertainties mainly focussing on embedding trials in routine clinical care (PRioRiTy study, Question 1). The findings of this study will develop an understanding in designing studies to establish a culture of clinical trials as part of routine clinical care duties.

  • Fiona Quirke
    Fiona Quirke

    Fiona is a PhD student with the HRB-TMRN based in the school of Nursing and Midwifery in NUI Galway. Fiona has completed a BSc. in Biomedical science, in which she achieved a first class honours and graduated top of her class. Fiona has also completed a level 8 Diploma in Irish language literacy from NUI Galway. Fiona’s background in Biomedical Sciences has led her to pursue a number of research projects in areas of chronic pain, Parkinson’s disease and colorectal cancer. Her final year research project on Parkinson’s disease etiology was awarded an esteemed award from the Dean of Science in NUI Galway. In addition, she was awarded funding as a Summer Research Scholar from the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, NUI Galway in 2017 to complete a research project investigating biomarkers in colorectal cancer. Her underlying interest in neuropharmacology and neurophysiology led her to pursue her HRB NEPTuNE project ‘COHESION: a core outcome set for the prevention and treatment of hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy’.

  • Lydia O’Sullivan
    Lydia O’Sullivan

    Lydia has worked as a Clinical Trial Coordinator and a Clinical Research Associate and holds a BSc in Radiation Therapy and a post graduate diploma in Radiotherapy and Oncology. Lydia is studying under the supervision of Prof Peter Doran (UCD School of Medicine) and Prof Eilish McAuliffe (UCD School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems).

  • Niamh O’Shea
    Niamh O’Shea

    Niamh is a PhD student with the HRB-TMRN based at the HRB Clinical Research Facility Cork and University College Cork. Niamh holds an MSc in Healthcare Ethics and Law. From 2010 to 2017 Niamh was based at the INFANT Centre, University College Cork, where she was the Clinical Trial Coordinator for a double blind, international, multicentre EU FP7 funded project in conjunction with being the Project Manager of various randomised Neonatal Clinical Trials, Medical Device Trials and Observational Studies. Niamh was previously employed as the Project Manager for an independent, single-centre CRO which performed Phase I bioequivalence and bioavailability clinical trials, dental and cosmetic studies. Niamh has had extensive involvement in clinical trial management, with over 12 years’ experience in the research industry.  Contact Details:

  • Courtney McDermott
    Courtney McDermott

    Courtney is a PhD student in Biostatistics, located in the School of Public Health at UCD. Prior to her doctoral studies, she completed a bachelor degree in Biology at Emory University in the States, and subsequently worked as a Research Specialist in a Paediatric Infectious Diseases laboratory. As she collected data on the viability of yeast as a vaccine delivery system, Courtney’s interest in data analysis and clinical research was sparked. She moved to Ireland in 2016 to complete her Master of Public Health degree, for which she received a first class honours. Her dissertation investigated the impact of teacher attitude on the success of a school-based intervention that aimed to increase fruit and vegetable consumption by Irish primary school students. Keen to expand her knowledge and experience with data analysis, Courtney joined CSTAR, the Centre for Support and Training in Analysis and Research, as a Research Assistant in 2017. During this year, Courtney and her supervisors developed a proposal for a PhD in Biostatistics, with the focus on missing data in clinical trials. In 2018, Courtney started her PhD research with the support of the HRB-TMRN, Irish Research Council (IRC), and CSTAR.

2014 – 2018

  • Marina Zaki
    Marina Zaki

    Marina is a research assistant in CHEMRES and a PhD student with the HRB-TMRN in the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research, Education, and Innovation in Health Systems (IRIS) in University College Dublin (UCD). Marina has a Master’s degree in translational medicine from King’s College London and a Bachelor’s degree in pharmacology from UCD. Prior to her current position, Marina worked as a biobank manager in Trinity College Dublin, St. James’s hospital, where she consented patients to research studies and sat on a scientific outreach committee. Marina has experience in systematic reviews, working on a national project commissioned by the Irish Department of Health and tutoring in evidence-based practice for healthcare in UCD. Marina is a Marie Curie fellow, where she worked on a cross industry-academia project with an EU funded consortium (3D NEONET). Marina has managed several social media accounts for different research initiatives. Her experience and interests lie in science communication, public engagement and working with stakeholders to identify appropriate communication strategies in trial methodology and clinical research.

  • Jessica O’ Dowd
    Jessica O’ Dowd

    Jessica is a PhD student at the Centre for Global Health, Trinity College Dublin and the HRB TMRN. Jessica holds an MSc Global Health and BSc Physiotherapy. Her research interests include disability, assistive health technologies and how context affects implementation of healthcare interventions in particular in low resource settings. The focus of her research is on the role of context in the implementation of healthcare interventions. She is using a realist methodology for evaluating how context affects healthcare outcomes for complex interventions under the supervision of Dr Fiona Larkin (Centre for Global Health, Trinity College Dublin) and Professor Eilish McAuliffe (School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems, University College Dublin)

  • Caroline Hurley
    Caroline Hurley

    Caroline Hurley is a PhD Fellow at the Health Research Board – Trials Methodology Research Network (HRB-TMRN) and is registered in the School of Medicine at University College Cork (UCC). In October 2014, Caroline was awarded a prestigious PhD scholarship through UCC’s Strategic Research Fund (SRF). Her PhD project titled ‘Risk-adapted approaches to the management of academic clinical trials’ aims to develop and evaluate a centralised risk-based monitoring plan for academic clinical trials in Ireland. Caroline will conduct her research project under the supervision of Professor Joe Eustace, Professor Patricia Kearney, Professor Mike Clarke, Dr Frances Shiely and Dr Evelyn Flanagan. Caroline graduated with a BSc in Public Health and Health Promotion from UCC in 2008. In 2013 she completed her Master’s in Public Health, specialising in Epidemiology. From May 2014 to October 2014, Caroline worked as the Clinical Trial Co-ordinator for the EU FP7 funded TRUST RCT, based in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health (UCC).Prior to this, she was a Research Assistant for TRUST from June 2013 -April 2014.

  • Aislinn Conway
    Aislinn Conway

    Aislinn Conway is a PhD Fellow at the Health Research Board – Trials Methodology Research Network (HRB-TMRN) and is registered in the School of Nursing and Midwifery at the National University of Ireland Galway. The focus of her research is on trials methodology. She is studying the effectiveness of methods for the dissemination of high-quality research findings into clinical practice and in particular, systematic reviews and summary of findings tables. Aislinn is studying under Professor Declan Devane, Director of the HRB –TMRN and Professor of Midwifery at NUI Galway and the Saolta University Health Care Group. Her co-supervisors are Professor Mike Clarke, Queen’s University Belfast and Professor Shaun Treweek, University of Aberdeen.

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