Bringing researchers in public health together

The NIPHRN was created to help Northern Ireland rise to the significant challenge posed by the need to integrate rigorous research into large scale, complex public health interventions/programmes. Overcoming these challenges requires an understanding of the cultural differences between the organisations and sectors involved, as well as the provision of a forum that would allow inter-sectoral and cross-disciplinary working.

The NIPHRN aims to increase the quantity and quality of public health research in Northern Ireland, improve policy and practice and contribute to better public health outcomes.

To meet this aim, we seek to:

  • Facilitate public health research
  • Extend the public health evidence base
  • Increase engagement between academics and their stakeholders
  • Provide research support, by enhancing the ability of public health researchers to respond collaboratively to focused calls for research funding.

The Team

Professor Mark Tully Image

Professor Mark Tully

Director of the network

Mark Tully is the Associate Research Director in the School of Medicine and a Professor of Public Health at Ulster University. HIs research focuses on addressing population levels of physical inactivity and sedentary behaviour, which are major causes of poor physical and mental wellbeing. His research includes interventions targeting older adults and socio-economically disadvantaged communities. In addition, he is interested in the effects of changes in the built environment on behaviours.

Telephone: +44 28 9036 6977

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Dr Anita Yakkundi Image

Dr Anita Yakkundi

Network coordinator

Dr Anita Yakkundi who has joined the team as the Network Coordinator in August 2019. Anita finished her PhD in Life Sciences in India in 1995 and worked for 15 years in molecular and cancer therapeutics at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB). She retrained in Applied behaviour analysis from QUB in 2015 and was a Marie-Curie EU-RESPECT charity co-fund fellow for research in assistive technology for autism and intellectual disability (ASSISTID) at University College Dublin. She is passionate about applying research to practice for health and social wellbeing.


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Dr Helen McAneney-Research Support Officer Image

Dr Helen McAneney-Research Support Officer

Dr Helen McAneney has been a member of the NIPHRN since its creation in 2012, joining its core staff in 2022 as a Research Associate.

She has conducted research in medical sciences and public health since 2005, and has worked at Queen’s University Belfast, Ulster University and University College Dublin.

Through various projects and collaborations, she has gained vital experience of multi- and inter-disciplinary team working across both the academic and the community sectors, with engagement with the patient and public from inception of research ideas through to the delivery of the research findings and impact thereafter.

Her interests include research methodology, rare disease, medical statistics, and evidence synthesis approaches such as systematic, realist and scoping reviews.


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Dr Michael McKay, Knowledge Broker Image

Dr Michael McKay, Knowledge Broker

Dr Michael McKay joins the NIPHRN having worked in a variety of roles across a number of UK and Irish Universities. Most recently he was based at the RCSI in Dublin where his research focussed on the longer-term consequences for psychiatric disorder of child and adolescent adversity. Previously, he managed a Randomised Controlled Trial examining the efficacy of a combined classroom-community intervention on adolescent alcohol use. This involved around 12,000 participants from NI and Scotland. Michael has over 100 peer-reviewed research publications, mostly in the areas of addictions, psychiatry, scale development, and psychometrics.

In his role of a Knowledge Broker, Michael seeks to foster more meaningful exchanges between public health practitioners, local authorities and academics.


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Jillian Nicholl Image

Jillian Nicholl

Support Assistant


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