NUI Galway to lead new public and patient involvement network in Ireland

Professor Sean Dinneen, of the School of Medicine at NUI Galway and Deirdre Mac Loughlin, a member of the public advisory panel on NUI Galway’s initial PPI Ignite programme
Jan 29 2021 Posted: 15:48 GMT

Third level partnership on research brings people's voices to the table

NUI Galway is to lead a new network of universities to champion public and patient involvement in health and social care research.

The Health Research Board, in conjunction with the Irish Research Council, announced the development of the new Public and Patient Involvement (PPI) Ignite Network across seven universities and 10 partner organisations, some of which represent patients.

With NUI Galway as lead, the network is being established to put the public and the patient at the centre of health and social care research. It aims to ensure that the next generation of graduates is familiar with Public and Patient Involvement (PPI) and know how to incorporate it into their research.

In the partnership, patients and members of the public will have the opportunity to work with research teams to decide what issues are important to focus on and how best to carry out research.

A key goal will be to ensure that the voices of marginalised and disadvantaged groups are heard.

The new network is being headed up by Professor Sean Dinneen, of the School of Medicine at NUI Galway, and Edel Murphy, who is based in the Institute for Lifecourse and Society in the University.

“The National PPI Network is a great opportunity for Irish universities to work together to re-imagine what health and social care research is all about and to involve our local communities as genuine partners in the research effort,” Professor Dinneen said.

“Rather than adding a tokenistic patient voice to our research we have to take time to form, nurture and engage with a diverse group of individuals from our local community who can provide an authentic public and patient perspective on our research.”

The network is building on an initial PPI Ignite Programme, which began in NUI Galway and other universities in 2017 and started the process of changing research culture.

A national public advisory panel will be set up in the early phase of its work. The network will also explore innovative ways of involving patients and the public in research, identify best practice and look to measure the impact of PPI.

An online hub is to be set up with the aim of connecting patients and members of the public who are interested in being involved with research communities who are seeking PPI partners. 

An annual PPI Festival will be held along with outreach events to share resources, knowledge and experience.

The network will also deliver training in PPI to researchers, the public, patients, community organisations, policy-makers and research funders.

Deirdre Mac Loughlin, a member of the public advisory panel on NUI Galway’s initial PPI Ignite programme, said: “We are on a journey to bring Public and Patient Involvement in health research from concept to reality. These partnerships allow us to bring our lived experience to the research question and often bring a different dimension and perspective to the table. All of this helps to improve the relevance of the research.

"Over the next few years we will help to drive PPI as an integral part of the research culture and broaden the number and diversity of active PPI contributors. Through genuine ‘PPI in Action’ the relevance of health research can be optimised and its benefits and trustworthiness be reinforced and promoted.”

As part of the new initiative to develop the PPI Network, Dr Ruth McMenamin and Professor Martin O’Halloran have been appointed as co-leads of the NUI Galway PPI Ignite programme.

The University will also strengthen ties with local partners such as Croí and the Saolta Hospital Group as well as working with international experts including Professor Derek Stewart (recently appointed Honorary Professor at NUI Galway) and Professor Carolyn Jenkins from the Medical University of South Carolina.

Members of the public and patients with an interest in finding out more about Public and Patient Involvement can contact

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