Working Life: Professor Helen Whelton, head of the College of Medicine and Health, UCC

Professor Helen Whelton, head of the College of Medicine and Health (CoMH), UCC


I hit the gym first thing — Freemotion Fitness. With three adult children — Sophie, Vickie and James — I have just myself to get out in the morning.


I have a breakfast meeting with Stephen Byrne, head of the School of Pharmacy, to discuss a new online asthma management programme. It’s designed primarily to support pharmacists and physiotherapists, keeping them up-to-date on best treatment strategies for asthma, optimising patient welfare.

The School of Pharmacy is one of six schools within the CoMH, where we cater for 3,500 students and employ 700 staff.


I arrive at the office to run through the day’s agenda with my PA and college manager.

Linking our research with industry is paramount. APC Microbiome Ireland, a leading microbiome research institute, has a range of academic and commercial partnerships, as has INFANT, Ireland’s only perinatal research centre, where the world’s first early predictive screening for pre-eclampsia was developed.


After catching up with calls and correspondence and checking in with my research team at the School of Dentistry, I take part in a teleconference with recruiters to discuss progress on recruitment of a new professor. Recruiting excellent international academics is an important part of my role.


I meet with our director of development to discuss meetings with our industry partners. The interface of the college with the health service, pharma and med tech industries is important for all three sectors, and we have regular get-togethers.


I host a reception in the boardroom for the VP of one of our local industries. It’s an opportunity to introduce him to some of our excellent researchers. We are very proud of the rich education and research ecosystem here in Cork.


A quick meeting with Gerry O’Dwyer, CEO of the SSWHG in my capacity as CAO, before meeting with vice deans and heads of schools in the College to discuss progress in developing a new scheme to provide seed funding for research and entrepreneurship for staff and students.


Home for dinner with husband Frank.

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