Meet the Team

Lesley O'Hara

Chief Executive Officer

Dr O’Hara is the Chief Executive Officer of the Saint John of God Research Foundation clg. St John of God provides mental health and intellectual disability services throughout Ireland, the UK, and Malawi. Lesley is responsible for the strategic development of research activities across these services, ensuring that a culture of research and innovation is promoted and supported through a robust governance structure, annual research funding scheme, and the delivery of research education and training. Lesley has a PhD in critical health psychology, with a focus on the lived experience of managing chronic illness. Her subsequent post-doctoral research has explored mental health including eating disorders, and the transition from child to adult mental health services across Europe.

Peter Gallagher

Head of Research Support Services

Peter Gallagher is the Head of Research Support Services for Saint John of God Research Foundation. He is very interested in promoting and supporting research projects in Saint John of God services. He has worked in DETECT and in other Saint John of God Community services Adult Mental Health services since 2012 and joined the research foundation in 2013. Peter delivers the Research Seminar Series, a 10 week series of 2 hour sessions which cover the basic steps of conducting research as well as exploring novel aspects and other research technology and developments. Peter has a Bachelor Degree in Psychology (hons) and is undertaking CIPP/E qualifications

Justin Smyth

Head of Library Services

Justin joined as Head of Library Services in October 2021 and is based in the SJOG Hospital Library and Lucena Library Rathgar each week. Justin started in Libraries in 2007 and has prior experience in both public and academic libraries, most recently as Librarian at CCT College Dublin.  While working at CCT he qualified with a Masters in Library and Information Studies (MLIS) in 2018. Justin serves on two Library Association of Ireland groups: the Library Ireland Week working group, which works to promote the work of libraries in all spheres and which centres on an annual week of activities and events,  and the recently formed Open Scholarship Group, formed to raise awareness of the importance of open access, open educational resources and open research in all disciplines. 

The Library at Saint John of God supports researchers at all stages of their professional research endeavours. From clinical inquiries to longer-form projects such as systematic reviews and scoping reviews, the Library, under the aegis of the Research Foundation, works closely with researchers to evolve comprehensive search strategies and academic assistance, and in the wider service to provide access to up-to-date, carefully curated physical and online collections. 

Louise Syms

Executive Assistant

In May 2021, Louise Syms joined the Research Foundation as Executive Assistant. Louise comes from an extensive 14 year career with Failte Ireland, National Tourism Development Authority in skills training, education, administration and sales. In 2019 she transferred her skills to the charity sector working for the Irish charity Mellon Educate.

Louise supports the Research Foundation team through administration assistance, is a member of the Research Advisory Committee and secretary for the Research Grants Committee taking minutes for both committees. Louise is involved in organising webinars, conferences, the Learning Exchange Series and hospitality events as well as the annual grant applications. This role is part time working four mornings a week.