Profile image of Professor Hugh McKenna

Professor Hugh McKenna

Professor of Nursing

Profile image of Professor Hugh McKenna


School of Nursing


Institute of Nursing and Health Research


Room 08K31 Shore Road Newtownabbey Co. Antrim BT37 0QB



Professor Hugh P. McKenna CBE, PhD, B.Sc(Hons), RMN, RGN, RNT, DipN(Lond), AdvDipEd, FFN RCSI, FEANS, FRCN, FAAN, MEA

Teaching and Research

Previous positions in the University include Dean of Medical School Development, Pro Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation, Dean of the Faculty of Life and Health Sciences, Head of School of Health Sciences, Head of School of Nursing and Research Director.

He has over 250 publications including 16 books, over £4 million in grants. He has supervised 19 PhD students to successful completion and been external examiner on over 30 PhD projects in various countries.

His published work has been cited in other publications 15,214 times and he has an H-Index of 49.

He has presented over 100 keynote plenary papers at conferences on five continents. He is on the editorial board of the Helyion Interdisciplinary Journal, International Journal of Nursing Studies, the Journal of Interdisciplinary Care, the Polish Physiotherapy Journal and the Rwandan Journal of Medicine and Health.

Community and Industry Engagement

He has been a board member of several interdisciplinary national research funding organisations (UK’s Parkinson’s Disease Society, National Institute of Health Research, Cancer Focus etc).

As PVC Research, he represented Ulster University and worked with QUB in the successful negotiations for a WELLCOME Wolfson Clinical Research Facility in Belfast. Until Sept 2016, he chaired Innovation Ulster Limited, a venture capital subsidiary company. He also chaired the Steering Committee of the Economic and Social Research Council’s Administrative Data Research Centre and was on the Boards of NI Science Park, the Medical Research Council’s Methodological Hub and MATRIX, Northern Ireland’s Science Industry Panel.

He currently chairs Inspire Wellbeing, the largest Mental Health, Learning Disability and Addiction Charity in Ireland and had previously been a Director of Action Mental Health.

He was been a non-executive Director for the Patient and Client Council since 2009 and Chaired their Research Committee. He continues to be a member of its Research Committee.

He was a member of subpanel 11 for the Research Assessment Exercise in 2008 and he chaired this subpanel in the 2008 exercise. He also chaired the 2014 UK Research Excellence Framework (REF) for pharmacy, nursing, allied health professions, biomedical sciences and dentistry. Currectly, he chairs the same sub panel for the 2021 REF. In 2017, he was appointed to the Interdisciplinary Research Advisory Committee for the 2021 UK Research Excellence Framework and appointed to chair the Swedish Research Council’s Health Research Committee, its equivalent of REF.

He was also a committee member of the Swedish Research Council’s international research assessment advisory panel. He was previously an executive member of the UK Council of Deans of Health. He co-founded and served on the committee of an International Doctoral Education Network, representing 34 countries.

Currently, he is a member of the International Scientific Advisory Board for King’s College London and an Adjunct/Visiting Professor in the University of Maribor, Slovenia and the University of Technology, Sydney, Australia. Until recently he was Adjunct Professor for Trinity College Dublin, Ireland and the University of Texas. He was also Head of the Visiting Committee at the Nethersole School in the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Currently he chairs panels for the Hong Kong Council for Accreditation.

In 2014, he co-founded the UK Military Veterans and Emergency Services Committee and the RCN’s Defence Nurses’ Network. He was previously an executive member of the UK Council of Deans of Health.

In 2018 he was appointed International Assessor on the Health Science Committee. Medical School, University of Nicosia, Cyprus.

In 2019 he was appointed to the Standing Review Board, Research Grants Council, Hong Kong.

In 2019, he was appointed a Trustee of the Alzheimer’s Society UK and sits on its People’s Committee, its Research and Policy Committee and its Delivering Support Committee


He is a fellow of the Royal College of Nursing (FRCN), Fellow of the European Academy of Nursing (FEAN) and Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland, (FRCSI). In 2008, her Majesty the Queen appointed him Commander of the British Empire (CBE) for his work on health and community. In the same year, he received a Senior Distinguished Researcher award from Ulster University. In 2009, he was made an International Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing (FAAN) – the first in the UK, the third person in Europe and the fifteenth worldwide to be given this honour since its foundation in 1973. In 2013, he was presented with the Outstanding Achievement Award by the Royal College of Nursing and in 2014, he was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Institute of Psychiatry in London.

In 2008, he was appointed Honorary Colonel for 253 Medical Regiment, a position he recently stepped down from in 2019.

In October 2016, he was awarded an Honorary Doctoral Degree by Edinburgh Napier University, Scotland, for his contribution to research. This was followed in 2019 by an the award of an Honorary Degree from the University of Maribor, Slovenia.

A 2018 Government report named him as one of the 70 most influential nurses in the 70 year history of the NHS.

In June 2019 he was appointed to the Academia Europaea, the pan-European Academy of Humanities, Letters and Sciences, founded in 1988 as an initiative of The Royal Society to be the official scientific advisory body for the EU.

In Oct 2019 he was nominated for membership of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts (EASA), one of the biggest Think Tanks in Europe. In November 2019, he was nominated for membership of the American National Academy of Medicine.

Research Interests

His research interests include interdisciplinary research, doctoral education, mental health care, suicide prevention, the health care workforce and the meaningful involvement of patients as co-producers of research.