A FORMER director of public health for the Mid-Western Western Health Board was recently awarded one of the University of Limerick’s highest and most prestigious honours, the UL President’s Medal.
Dr Kevin Kelleher, assistant national director of Health Protection, Health Service Executive (HSE) and first chair of the UL Research Ethics Committee was presented with the award at a recent ceremony in UL.
Speaking at the award ceremony, UL President Professor Don Barry said that the university was very fortunate to have such an accomplished individual as Dr Kelleher head up their first Research Ethics Committee.
“There is no doubt that his work over the past 10 years has made a tremendous contribution to our research faculty. Dr Kelleher has given freely of his time, his esteemed counsel and will forever be regarded as a great friend of UL. This is the first President’s Medal to be granted under my tenure and it is a special pleasure and honour to present it to someone who has made such a lasting contribution to this institution,“ he said.
Dr Kelleher was appointed as the first Chair of the UL Research Ethics Committee (ULREC) in 1999. As the research programmes developed and expanded, a research ethics committee became vital to the strategy and vision of the research programme.
The work of the ULREC involved formulating a clear protocol and standardisation across the board to offer researchers benchmarks of acceptable ethical codes of practice. Over the past 10 years, the work of the committee has proved vital to UL’s research success and a professional ethical code of practice has been well established for research at UL.
In his previous roles, Dr Kelleher was director of Public Health Mid-Western Health Board and of Wolverhampton Health Authority in England. As assistant national director of health protection in the HSE, Dr Kelleher heads up the area of health protection which ensures the public are protected from infectious diseases and harm as a result of environmental hazards.
He has been involved in a number of high-profile projects including the two largest environmental investigations in the country – Askeaton and Silermines – and the setting up of the Irish Cervical Screening Programme.
His research ethics experience has included chairing hospital, public health and university research committees and he was also a participant in the European project for Public Health Ethics EUROPHEN 2003-2007.
Dr Kelleher’s role also includes leading research on Health Care Acquired Infection for the HSE, the integration of the national infectious disease surveillance function with that of the national infectious disease control function and the national immunisation programme.
The President’s Medal was last awarded in 2007 and previous recipients include Pat Cox president, European Parliament, Peter V Delaney professor of surgical science, UL and consultant vascular surgeon, Mid-Western Health Board, Jim McEnery GM, Boart Longyear and members of the original UL Project Group 1968-1972.