Athlone Institute of Technology to Host 5th National Research Ethics Conference

Athlone Institute of Technology will proudly host Ireland’s annual Research Ethics Conference themed ‘Ethics of Health Promotional Campaigns’ on Wednesday, 4th December at its Engineering and Informatics facility. The national conference, now its fifth year, will be attended by representatives from the Royal College of Surgeons, Ulster University and Trinity College Dublin.

Among those scheduled to speak at the event is Professor David Smith, an Associate Professor of Healthcare Ethics at the Royal College of Surgeons (RCSI). Professor Smith, who is also the Director of the MSc in Healthcare Ethics and Law (RCSI), and lectures on the topic of healthcare ethics at Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, the College of Anaesthetists and the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, will discuss public health and the ethical issues that can arise.

Mary Kirwan, a barrister who specialises in healthcare ethics and law, will also be in attendance to discuss the relationship between public health and data. Ms Kirwar lectures at the RCSI at undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral level, and is the legal lead with the Royal College of Physicians basic and higher specialist training programmes. The barrister also acts as legal adviser to a number of academic and hospital clinical ethics and research ethics committees, works across a number of different organisations and hospitals - including Trinity College Dublin - and lectures in the Honorable Society of Kings Inns.

The third key note address will be delivered by Desmond O’Neil, Professor of Medical Gerontology at Trinity College Dublin, consultant geriatrician at Tallaght University Hospital and Director of the RCPI/RSA National Office for Traffic Medicine. Professor O’Neill, whose research interests include ageing and the neurosciences, will discuss an ongoing challenge for the healthcare professions - ethical articulacy. Authoring more than 400 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters, he is one of the most widely published clinicians in Ireland on clinical ethics in peer-reviewed journals.

Finally, Dr Katie Liston, who is a senior lecturer in the social sciences of sport at Ulster University, will discuss the interplay between sports ethics, health and gender. Dr Liston, whose doctoral research focussed on sport and gender in Ireland, is a former all-Ireland and all-star Gaelic games player with national and international representation in rugby and soccer. In recent years, her research interests have expanded to sport and health (including concussion, pain and injury) and sport and identity (including gender and national identity).

Keynote addresses will be followed by a panel discussion and question and answer session chaired by Dr Mary McDonnell-Naughton, a founding member and Chairperson of the Athlone Institute of Technology’s Research Ethics Committee. Dr McDonnell Naughton, who is a senior lecturer in the Department of Nursing and Healthcare at Athlone Institute of Technology, is also a past member of the National Forum Research Ethic Committee – the committee responsible for developing, implementing and enhancing arrangements for research conducted under its aegis. Commenting on the significance of this year’s theme, Dr McDonnell-Naughton said: “It is important to have ethical and truthful conversations regarding health promotion initiatives and their importance to society”

For more information and to register for the conference, please visit: All queries should be directed to Amanda Murray, Office of Research at Athlone Institute of Technology. Email: or Phone: (090) 648 3061. You can follow the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #NREConf.

Athlone Institute of Technology is a vibrant, contemporary institution distinguished by academic excellence in teaching, learning and research. The institute has enjoyed considerable success in recent years, most notably being awarded The Sunday Times ‘Institute of Technology of the Year 2020, 2018 and Runner-Up in 2017. The institute also tops Ireland’s official league table for research and has been listed in U-Multirank’s ‘Top 25 Performing Universities in the World for Interdisciplinary Research’ in 2018 and 2019. Athlone Institute of Technology has ranked number one for student satisfaction nationally for six consecutive years.

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