Patient Advocate Derek Stewart OBE appointed Honorary Professor at NUI Galway

Derek Stewart OBE has been appointed Honorary Professor at NUI Galway
Oct 19 2020 Posted: 11:40 IST

NUI Galway’s College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences have announced the appointment of Derek Stewart OBE as Honorary Professor for his work as a patient advocate involved in health research.

Born in Ayr, Scotland, Derek was treated successfully for cancer of the larynx in 1995. A former teacher in Glasgow and Nottinghamshire, he subsequently became involved in numerous aspects of patient involvement at local, national and international levels.

Derek has made significant contributions to Public and Patient Involvement (PPI) in research in the UK, holding many important roles over the years and was awarded an OBE in 2006 for his services to health, in particular cancer care. He is recognised internationally as a public involvement champion and brings meaning and insight into the value of PPI for research. In recent years, he has played a key role supporting the development of PPI in NUI Galway, contributing substantially to many programmes of research including PPI Ignite @ NUI Galway, the HRB-Trials Methodology Research Network and Evidence Synthesis Ireland.

PPI Ignite @ NUI Galway aims to bring about a change in how research is planned and conducted, so that the communities or people who will be affected by the research findings work as partners with researchers to increase the relevance and improve the quality of the research. The HRB-Trials Methodology Research Network, among many other areas of work, are creators of where the public can quickly and easily check the reliability of a health claim circulated by social media and also led The People’s Trial, a public-led virtual randomised trial. Evidence Synthesis Ireland was responsible for providing up-to-date evidence in answering COVID-related questions for national and international decision-makers during the pandemic.

Derek willingly shares his knowledge and experience of PPI with researchers across the University, and brings his experienced patient perspective to help shape complex research studies. As a champion of patient involvement in researchhis reflective and incisive contributions to research discussions present new, public and patient perspectives to researchers, often challenging conventional thinking. He has contributed significantly to the growing recognition of NUI Galway as a leader in PPI.

On achieving this Honorary Professorship Derek Stewart OBE said: “I feel very privileged to be associated in this manner with NUI Galway, an internationally recognised centre of learning, particularly in the way the public can get involved with health research.”

Mary Roche, a PPI Contributor in NUI Galway, said: “When I heard Derek talking about his PPI work, I found him inspirational, enlightening, humorous and thought-provoking. Given Derek’s journey through his care and treatment for throat cancer, I will never forget his powerful statement ‘while you’ve still got a voice, use it’. Derek made me feel confident that, as a PPI contributor, it is precisely my direct experience that can provide insights that are of great value to those providing health and social care services or seeking to do research.”

Professor Declan Devane, Professor of Midwifery, NUI Galway, said: “I am very pleased that Derek has been appointed as Honorary Professor to NUI Galway. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Derek across a number of important projects. He brings not only a wealth of expertise but a generosity in sharing his insight to ensure that patient and public involvement and engagement in research is both meaningful and purposeful. Partnerships between patients, the public and the University and its work are important goals in our University's strategy. I am delighted for Derek, his wife Pat and his family, and for our University. I have no doubt that Derek’s contribution will also help ensure that our contribution remains focussed on, and develops further, in a meaningful and purposeful way."

Professor Sean Dinneen, Professor of Diabetic Medicine, NUI Galway and Consultant Endocrinologist, Galway University Hospitals, Galway, Ireland has welcomed this conferral: “Honorary Professor Derek Stewart has been a huge support to our local efforts in NUI Galway to embed PPI in our research processes. His understanding of what constitutes meaningful PPI has been an inspiration to us. We look forward to further contact with Derek in the years ahead.”

NUI Galway President, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh will welcome Honorary Professor Derek Stewart in delivering his Inaugural Professorial Lecture online on Wednesday, 4 November at 1pm. The lecture is open to the public and registration is via Eventbrite:

For further information please contact the PPI Ignite Office @ NUI Galway at


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