Professor Hugh McKenna

Professor of Nursing

School of Nursing
Research Institute
Institute of Nursing and Health Research
Jordanstown campus
+44 28 9036 8457
Room 08K31
Shore Road
Co. Antrim
BT37 0QB

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

Teaching and Research

He is Dean of Medical School Development at Ulster University. His previous post was Pro Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation. Prior to that, for seven years, he was Dean of the Faculty of Life and Health Sciences and before that he spent five years as Head of School of Health Sciences.

He has over 250 publications including 11 books, over £4 million in grants and has supervised 16 PhD students to successful completion.

His published work has been cited over 10,000 times and has a H-Index of 40.

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. He currently chairs Inspire Wellbeing, the largest Mental Health, Learning Disability and Addiction Charity in Ireland.

He has been a non-executive Director for the Patient and Client Council since 2009 and Chairs their Research Committee. 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 was appointed chair of sub panel 11 in RAE2008 2009-2014 and he chaired sub panel 3 in the 2014 UK Research Excellence Framework panel for pharmacy, nursing, allied health professions, and dentistry. He currently chairs the Hong Kong Council for Accreditation and previously chaired the Swedish Research Council’s Health Sciences panel.

He is 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, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia, and Trinity College Dublin, Ireland and is Head of the Visiting Committee at the Nethersole School in the Chinese University of Hong Kong. For 5 years, he was adjunct professor at the University of Texas.

In 2014, he co-founded the UK Military Veterans and Emergency Services Committee and the RCN’s Defence Nurses’ Network.

In October 2016, he was awarded an Honorary Degree by Edinburgh Napier University, Scotland, for his contribution to research.

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.


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.

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 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 2009, he was made an International Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing (FAAN) – only the third person in Europe and the fifteenth worldwide to be given this honour.

Research Interests

His research interests include interdisciplinary research, doctoral education, mental health care, suicide prevention, and the health care workforce.

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