Professor of Neurology Orla Hardiman has been given the 2023 Impact Award in celebration of her research into neurodegenerative conditions.
Chosen by an international panel and presented by the Health Research Board (HRB), the Impact Award seeks to honour those whose research has led to a positive change in health policy.
Upon presenting her with the award, Chief Executive of the Health Research Board, Dr Mairéad O’Driscoll, said: “I can’t think of a better example of that than Professor Hardiman.”
“Throughout her career Professor Hardiman has put her patients and their families first. This has been the main driver for her research and her contribution to advancing professional practice.”
“She is guided always by the impact that her work has on patients”, Dr O’Driscoll continued.
In her acceptance speech, Prof Hardiman detailed what has driven her work: “Very early in my professional life, I made a conscious decision that all of my research endeavours would be guided by my experience as a working clinician, and by my desire to improve the lives of those whom I have the privilege of serving as a Consultant Neurologist.”
“In my clinical career I have tried to improve both the lot of people with chronic neurologic disease and to enhance clinical services for those with ALS/MND and related disorders.”
She claims her “guiding light” has been to continuously ask herself “whether the research work we do “matters” in a real-world sense to those we serve?”
Prof Hardiman acknowledged the colleagues and students that she has worked with, adding that she felt “fortunate to have been motivated by the many exceptionally bright students and trainees with whom I have worked throughout my professional life, all of whom have shaped my research career and outlook.”
Impacts arising from Professor Hardiman’s research include the 2016 Health Service Executive’s (HSE) Model of Care for Neurology, which was directly informed by her clinical management of motor neuron disease (MND), and her role in establishing an MND clinic at Beaumont Hospital, which has become the national centre for MND and provides direct care for over 80% of Irish patients with MND. The unit is seen internationally as a centre of excellence.
In November 2022, Prof Hardiman was awarded the Provost’s Innovation Award for her work pertaining to MND. In the same month, she was also named Science Foundation Ireland’s (SFI) Researcher of the Year.
Alongside being a Professor of Neurology at Trinity College, Prof Hardiman is also a Consultant Neurologist at Beaumont Hospital, and National Clinical Lead Neurologist at the HSE. She also co-founded TRICALS, the largest European research initiative seeking to find a cure for MND.