Dr David Graham is the current CEO of Animal Health Ireland. He qualified from UCD as a Veterinary Surgeon in 1988, and after working as a house surgeon at the Veterinary School in Dublin he moved back to Northern Ireland where he spent several years in mixed large animal practice.
In 1992 David joined the Stormont laboratories of the Veterinary Sciences Division of the Science Service (now the Agrifood and Biosciences Institute) of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development where he has worked in several branches. During his time there he gained extensive experience in the diagnosis and control of a wide range of viral and bacterial diseases, including bovine viral diarrhoea (BVDV), infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR), Johne's disease and leptospirosis. He received his PhD in 1998 on improved methods for diagnosing bovine respiratory disease from Queen’s University Belfast. In 2007 he established, and subsequently led, a cattle health scheme offering monitoring, eradication and accreditation programmes for BVD, IBR, Johnes and leptospirosis.
David joined AHI in October 2010 and held the position of Deputy CEO prior to his appointment as CEO in September 2017. In 2016 he was awarded a Fellowship of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons in recognition of his meritorious contribution to knowledge.
Contact David by emailhere.
Nuala Morgan - Office Manager & Company Secretary
Nuala has many years of experience working with various companies such as City of Dublin VEC and IBEC. She left Dublin in 1997 and moved to Carrick on Shannon where she managed her own restaurant business.
Contact Nuala Morgan by email here.
Grainne Dwyer - Communications and Events
Grainne comes to Animal Health Ireland with many years experience in the area of administration, communications and event management. She had been working with AHI in a consultative capacity for three years prior to joining the organisation on a full-time basis in 2012.
Gráinne worked for several years in the Incorporated Law Society of Ireland in a number of roles including administrator of their professional indemnity insurance. More recently, she was General Secretary of the Irish Grassland Society, a position she held for eight years. In 2007 she left the IGA to set up her own company, Nore Conference Services, acting as a Consultant to several major agricultural events, including Beef Expo 2008, Beef Expo 2010 and the Nuffield International Conference.
In 1999, Gráinne was awarded a Nuffield Farming Scholarship and was the first woman in Ireland to be awarded the Scholarship. Her study topic was an examination of the role of women in agriculture. She travelled to Norway, France, New Zealand and Australia to research her subject.
Contact Grainne by email here.
Jackie Dempsey - Administrator
Jackie graduated from the Dublin Institute of Technology with a degree in Marketing in 1987.
She then worked in a financial services firm in the U.S.A. for many years, holding various administrative and accounting posit
ions. After returning to Ireland Jackie spent a few years raising a family while continuing her education and training as a secondary school teacher.
She joined AHI in March 2012 and works as a part time administrator with particular focus on the BVD programme.
Nicola McKeon - Administrator
Nicola worked in London in Fleet and Insurance before moving to Ireland in 2003. She has many years of experience working with various companies in Ireland with a wide range of roles in administration.
She joined Animal Health Ireland in January 2013 and works as an administrator with particular focus on the Johne’s disease programme.
Finola McCoy - Senior Programme Manager CellCheck
Finola graduated from University College Dublin in 1997 with a degree in veterinary medicine. She spent the following 11 years working in various mixed practices in Ireland, UK and New Zealand, and during this time developed a keen interest in the dairy industry. Working with large dairy herds in New Zealand provided an invaluable insight into some of the challenges associated with herd expansion and disease control. While working in practice she undertook a Masters in Science in Livestock Health and Production through the University of London, which she completed in 2006.
Finola joined the Teagasc research team in Moorepark in 2008, as the mastitis research officer. She co-ordinated and managed a pilot study evaluating a team-based approach to mastitis control, as well as collaborating on other research projects. She has a keen interest and experience in international models of mastitis control. While working for Teagasc she commenced working as Programme Manager for CellCheck, and joined the AHI staff in May 2013 to continue working in that role.
Finola has been awarded a 2014 Nuffield scholarship, to explore the topic of building strong professional teams and networks among rural service providers.
Contact Finola by email here.
Lisa Byrne - IT Systems Support/Operations
Lisa graduated from Sligo Institute of Technology with a degree in Business Administration in 2010. She spent two years in Toronto, Canada working in various administrative positions before returning to Ireland in 2012. After returning to Ireland she moved back to Mayo and worked as part of the finance team in a multinational organisation based there. Lisa joined AHI in December 2015, where she works as an administrator with particular focus on the CellCheck Programme, Skillnet’s and Finance.
Dr Maria Guelbenzu - BVD & IBR Programme Manager
After graduating from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Zaragoza (Spain) Maria moved to Northern Ireland, where she gained five years of experience as a veterinary practitioner in a mixed practice.
She joined the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) as a Veterinary Research Officer in 2005, working initially on contingency planning for epizootic diseases such as avian influenza and swine fever. From January 2008 Maria managed the diagnostic virology laboratory (classical and molecular virology) and serology at AFBI’s Veterinary Sciences Division, becoming Technical Manager for ISO17025 accredited serological and molecular tests.
Maria has worked in the AFBI Cattle Health Scheme (CHS) since 2008, leading and coordinating it since 2010. This is a voluntary scheme which provides disease management programmes with the objective of accrediting disease-free or risk level status for bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD), infectious bovine rhinotraqueitis (IBR), leptospirosis, neosporosis and Johne’s disease.
For the last 10 years she has been involved in several research projects related to endemic diseases of cattle, focusing mostly on BVD and IBR. These projects have studied the diagnosis, epidemiology, cost and control of these diseases. Maria has been a member of Animal Health Ireland BVD and IBR Technical Working Groups since 2010 and 2011 respectively as well Animal Health and Welfare Northern Ireland BVD Implementation Group since it was set up. She was awarded a PhD from Queens University, Belfast, in 2015 for research on BVD.
She has been Head of the Disease Surveillance and Investigation Branch in AFBI which delivers passive animal disease surveillance for Northern Ireland, since 2013 until joining Animal Health Ireland in 2018.
Dr Natascha Meunier - Beef HealthCheck Programme Manager
Natascha graduated as a veterinarian from the University of Pretoria, South Africa, in 2005. She worked there for several years in mixed practice and as a government vet. In 2011, she moved to the Netherlands to complete a MSc in epidemiology, where she also worked in private practice as a veterinary practitioner.
With a keen interest in infectious diseases, Natascha undertook a project studying bovine tuberculosis in cattle and wildlife in Uganda, obtaining her PhD in epidemiology through the Royal Veterinary College and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in 2016. She has since worked on research projects based at the University of Edinburgh.
Natascha joined AHI in 2019 and is currently training as a resident in Veterinary Public Health and Population Medicine.
Lawrence Gavey - Johne's Disease Programme Manager
Lawrence Gavey graduated from University of Queensland in 1989 and has a degree in veterinary science. Over the last 30 years, Lawrence has worked as a veterinary practitioner in equine, mixed practice and government. This diverse experience has benefited him in his career to date.
More specifically over the past 20 years, Lawrence has participated in, or led, government programmes to manage established diseases of livestock and animal welfare in several Australian state government veterinary services ranging from the temperate south of Victoria and South Australia to the sub-tropical north of Queensland. These diseases included Johne’s disease, brucellosis, enzootic bovine leucosis, avian and equine influenza, Hendra virus, bluetongue, mucosal disease, and weed toxicities.
Lawrence developed a special interest in Johne's disease from helping industries and governments to understand and manage its technical and social complexities, especially on-farm management to either prevent spread or to minimise the herd impacts of infection. His extensive experience with Johne’s disease was gained in the dairy, beef, sheep and goat industries. As programme leader of Johne's disease with the South Australian and Queensland governments, he has fostered industry leadership, promoted farmer understanding, and developed innovative solutions to complex trading and technical issues.
Lawrence has presented at international and national conferences and is recognised globally for integrating Johne's disease considerations of strategic planning, practical management, veterinary diagnostics, trade, and industry.
Dr Carla Gomes - Pig HealthCheck Programme Manager.
Carla graduated as a veterinary practitioner from the University of Porto, Portugal in 2002. She worked for several years in small animal practice while studying for her MSc in Veterinary Public Health in Lisbon Technical University, focusing on Johne’s disease in dairy cattle.
She lectured in epidemiology and public health for some years in the University of Porto and completed a PhD in Salmonella in pigs, specialising on risk characterisation and modelling of disease transmission within a herd.
In 2012 Carla moved to Scotland and worked for the Epidemiology Research Unit (ERU) SRUC - Scotland’s Rural College for seven years. There she was involved in several projects related to the British pig sector and other livestock species, with the aim to provide relevant epidemiological science that meets the needs of policy-makers and industry. Several of the projects with the Scottish and English pig industries involved the application of quantitative methods to allow data from different sources (e.g. abattoir data) to be integrated and applied effectively.
During her time in SRUC she was the ERU species-expert on pigs and contributed to the existing Scottish Centre of Expertise for Animal Disease Outbreaks, with the particular responsibility to work with other scientists in providing the evidence base to establish the best control strategies to match the pig industry’s needs.
Michelle grew up on a dairy farm in East Cork and has been directly involved in farming from a young age which led her to complete a Degree in Agricultural Science at UCD in 1999. Following on from this she completed a Master’s Degree in Bovine Reproduction with Teagasc at Moorepark Research Centre in 2001.
After a brief spell in industry she returned to UCD to complete a Degree in Veterinary Medicine in 2008. For the past 12 years she has worked predominantly in mixed practice in Ireland where she further enhanced her interest in herd health on dairy farms. She particularly enjoyed working with the farmers to effectively manage infectious diseases in their herds through improved diagnostics, education and targeted therapies.
Michelle is heavily involved in showing and breeding Holstein Friesian cattle at club and national level and uses this opportunity to promote animal health and welfare. Furthering her interest in the Agricultural and Food industries, she is currently undertaking a Diploma in Food Production at UCC.
Contact Michelle by email here