Derick Mitchell – Chief Executive

Derick Mitchell, PhD is the Chief Executive Officer of IPPOSI. Derick has a background in research, strategy and advocacy from over 12 years’ experience spanning a number of leadership roles in research and multi-stakeholder engagement in Ireland and at the EU-level. Derick has a strong track record in collaborating to influence healthcare policy with the goals of enhancing research infrastructure, increasing patient involvement and improving access to treatments.

Derick believes in the power of a united voice when it comes to patient advocacy and the central role of patients and their representative organisations in healthcare and research. Derick leads IPPOSI’s involvement in the European Patients Academy (EUPATI), an initiative which is training patients to become involved in the medicines R&D process, and has spread the IPPOSI public-private partnership model to over 20 countries. Derick is an elected board member of the newly-established EUPATI Foundation in the Netherlands.

Derick serves on the advisory boards and steering committees of a number of health-related initiatives including Health Innovation Hub Ireland,, EHealth Ireland, HIQA, UCD Research Ethics Committee, as well as the Medical & Life Sciences Committee of the Royal Irish Academy. Derick is also chairperson of the Scientific Advisory Board of the HRB-Trials Methodology Research Network (HRB-TMRN).

Derick holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biotechnology from NUI Galway and a PhD in Molecular Medicine from University College Dublin. Outside of IPPOSI, Derick spends his free time attempting to influence his two young daughters.

Laura Kavanagh – Research & Advocacy Officer

Laura is the Research & Advocacy Manager in IPPOSI, with responsibility for developing evidence-based health policy positions and recommendations related to improving equitable patient access to health innovation.  Prior to her current role, Laura spent three years as the EUPATI National Platform Coordinator, based in IPPOSI. Prior to this, Laura spent two years providing research and policy advice to Liberal Democrat councillors in London. Before moving to the UK, she worked on human rights and governance programmes with international organisations including the United Nations (UN) in Uganda, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Kosovo, and the Council of Europe (CoE) in Strasbourg.



Gemma joined IPPOSI in 2017 as the EUPATI ENP Coordinator, bringing over 12 years experience in strategy and project management. Gemma’s role involves coordinating over 20 IPPOSI-like entitles all over Europe, as part of the EUPATI programme.  Her expertise lies in strategy development and implementation, campaign management and key leadership and stakeholder advocacy and engagement. As a senior business development and marketing professional, Gemma most recently led the Strategic Networks Programme at PwC Ireland. Prior roles have seen her lead PwC Ireland’s digital strategy along with various internal change projects. She is also a qualified tax consultant with over 8 years experience leading large scale projects and working with global clients across Ireland, UK, Europe and North America, having spent 3 years working in Canada. Having had first hand experience of the expert care at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin, Gemma is passionate about linking her strength in project management to her passion for patient care and the delivery of patient-led health policy in Ireland. Gemma graduated with a Bachelor of Business and Legal Studies (BBLS Hons) from University College Dublin (2003). She is a qualified tax consultant (AITI) and has a Diploma in Digital Marketing. When she’s not working, Gemma is a twin mom who loves to take on a challenge – from running a ultramarathon, completing a triathlon or learning to trade futures.


Mel’s career has involved ‘Start-Up’ Business development, Project Management and all aspects of Office Systems Management including human resource management, financial systems management and logistics and supply chain delivery.  Mel has extensive experience in successfully incubating new ideas and delivering profitable business solutions.

Being fiercely interested in the impact of food on health, over the last decade Mel successfully developed, marketed and operated a niche catering business specialising in a premium health-oriented product offering, which included; a private catering service, delicatessen and 70+ seater restaurant.



Caroline Whelan joins the IPPOSI team as the EUPATI National Platform Officer, bringing over 20 years’ experience in scientific research, policy and project management. As a Senior Scientific Officer she worked in the Research and Policy Affairs team at Science Europe, a Brussels based association of European Research Funding and Research Performing Organisations. Although interested in many and diverse policy topics, she had a particular focus on Horizon 2020; Energy Efficiency; Defence Research; Citizen Science and Biodiversity. Previously she had worked as a Science Officer at COST (Co-Operation in Science and Technology), an intergovernmental organization funding networks in science and technology. She was responsible for the fundamental and applied Materials, Physics and Nanosciences Domain as well as trans-disciplinary topics. Prior to these roles, she performed and managed research as a Senior Scientist and Research Project Manager at IMEC, the largest independent nanoelectronics and digital technologies research centre in Europe. Caroline graduated with a BSc. (Hons) in Analytical Science from Dublin City University (1994) followed by a PhD in Chemistry (1998).