Saint John of God Research Study Day 2023

Merete Nordentoft​

Merete Nordentoft is an expert in epidemiology, suicidal behavior, psychopathology and early intervention in psychosis. She was PI for many large randomized clinical trials, evaluating the effect of psychosocial intervention, of which the Danish OPUS trial (specialized assertive intervention in first episode psychosis) is the most well-known. She has worked with suicide prevention at a national level since 1997. Together with a group of epidemiologist from Nordic countries, she has proved that life expectancy in schizophrenia is 15 to 20 years shorter than in the general population. She is involved as one of the PI’s in iPSYCH, the Lundbeck FoundationInitiative. For Integrative Psychiatric Research, which aims at investigating genetic and environmental causes of mental disorders. The initiation of the large Danish High Risk and Resilience Study VIA 7 is an important part of iPSYCH. She was given the prestigious award “Global Excellence in Health” in 2012.

Evert-Jan Hoogerwerf

Evert-Jan Hoogerwerf is a Dutch-born Italian that works for several national and international organisations, among which AIAS Bologna, where he leads the Assistive Technology and Research Team, the Association for the Advancement of Assistive Technology in Europe (AAATE) and the Global Alliance of Assistive Technology Organizations (GAATO). He is an advocate for digital inclusion worldwide and when he is not working he likes Indonesian cooking, making walnut liquor (nocino) and taking care of his wife’s beehives.

Claire Gillan

Claire Gillan is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Trinity College Dublin ( Her work has a dual focus on developing our understanding of basic mechanisms that give rise to disorders of the mind, but also in developing novel tools to assist in prevention and intervention research. Her group has helped developed a range of novel internet-based methods to facilitate the gathering of large and ecologically valid data. Notable examples in this area include the smartphone app Neureka that her lab developed for engaging thousands of citizen scientists in brain health research ( and studies using natural language (e.g. Twitter, therapy data) to understand the dynamic properties of mood. The lab uses a range of analytical techniques such as computational modelling and machine learning to understand and predict mental health problems, and developed a now widely-used technique called ‘Computational Factor Modelling’ that identifies transdiagnostic dimensions in psychiatry from normative samples. Claire has received numerous awards, including the Early Career Researcher of the Year from Science Foundation Ireland (2022) and the Early Career Award from the Society for Neuroeconomics (2022). She holds funding from Science Foundation Ireland, the European Research Council and is an MQ Fellow.

Avril Kennan

Avril Kennan is CEO of Health Research Charities Ireland (HRCI), an organisation that supports a community of 40 charities to engage in all aspects of health research. Under her leadership, HRCI runs the Irish Health Research Forum, manages a funding scheme for patient-focused research projects in partnership with the Health Research Board and hosts a patient and public involvement (PPI) ‘Shared Learning Group’ for over 30 charities. HRCI also plays a leading role in PPI and is a national partner on the PPI Ignite Network.  Avril’s PhD and subsequent lab experience are in the field of genetics. In previous roles in DEBRA Ireland and DEBRA International, she drove a range of patient-focused international initiatives. She’s passionate about improving lives through research.