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Minister Donnelly announces the appointment of Professor Breda Smyth as Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Health

The Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD has announced that Professor Breda Smyth is to be appointed as Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Health. The appointment follows an open competition that took place through the Top-Level Appointment Commission (TLAC) process.

Professor Smyth has been interim Chief Medical Officer in the Department since July of this year. She has extensive clinical experience and has specialised in public health for the last 16 years and was formerly Professor for Public Health Medicine in NUI Galway and Consultant in Public Health in HSE West. 

Minister Donnelly said:

“I am pleased to announce the selection of Professor Breda Smyth for appointment as Chief Medical Officer in the Department of Health. Professor Smyth’s considerable experience, excellent leadership ability and extensive public health skillset will be a valuable asset to the Department and I am delighted to build on the great work that Breda has done in her time as interim Chief Medical Officer in the last few months. 

“The pandemic has placed a renewed spotlight on the importance of public health in our health and social care services and I very much look forward to working with Breda as we build on this important work and continue to facilitate increased access to the health service, as well as the quality of that service.”

Professor Smyth said:

“This is a very proud day for me and my family. I am delighted to accept this role and I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Department of Health, and across our health and social care service to promote and protect public health and the health and wellbeing of the population of Ireland. 

“The Chief Medical Officer has a primary role in implementing cross-government initiatives like Healthy Ireland and Sláintecare and I am excited by the challenge ahead. I am keen to use my term as Chief Medical Officer to support greater engagement with marginalised groups in society and address inequities in health by supporting the Department’s work in improving the affordability and quality of our health service.”





Professor Breda Smyth MD, MPH, FFPHMI

Professor Smyth completed her primary degree in Medicine (MB, BCh, BAO) in University College Galway. She then continued her training in the Royal College of Physicians Ireland, undertook a Masters in Public Health in University College Dublin, a Medical Doctorate in NUI Galway and a post-doctoral fellowship in UCLA. Professor Smyth was conferred as a Member of the Faculty of Public Health Medicine of Ireland in 2005, and, in 2013, was made a Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health Medicine in Ireland.

Professor Smyth has been interim Chief Medical Officer in the Department of Health since July of this year and was formerly Personal Professor of Public Health Medicine in NUI Galway and a Consultant in Public Health in HSE West. She has extensive experience leading national programmes across the four domains of Public Health: Health Protection, Health and Health Service Intelligence, Health Service Improvement and Health Improvement. 

Throughout the pandemic as Director of Public Health HSE West, Professor Smyth led the Department of Public Health HSE West as well as her significant national contribution as a member of the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), the Rapid Testing Expert Advisory Group and as a founding member of the COVID-19 - Irish Epidemiology Modelling Advisory Group (IEMAG). She pursued her research as Chief Investigator on the multi-site study UniCoV exploring early warning systems for SARS Co-V-2 including rapid testing technologies in higher and further education sectors. 

Prior to the pandemic she was a Senior Responsible Owner on the HSE Crowe Horwath Public Health Reform programme in 2019. She conceptualised and was the National Lead on the ‘Planning for Health’ project since its inception in 2015. This work has been integrated as part of the Health Budget Estimates process. Professor Smyth was the National Lead on the Health and Positive Ageing Project and she developed and published the ‘Healthy and Positive Ageing for All; Research Strategy 2015 – 2019’ in collaboration with the Department of Health in 2019. She was also the National Stroke Prevention Lead in the Stroke Clinical Programme 2010 -2014 leading the pilot opportunistic screening for atrial fibrillation. She continues her interest in stroke prevention through her research as National PI on the EU funded AFFECT EU study.  

Professor Smyth has also undertaken extensive research including a Medial Doctorate on ‘Mortality Inequalities in Ireland 2000 -2006’ between 2007 – 2009 for which she received the Zachary Johnson Bronze Medal. She was also awarded a Post-Doctoral Fellowship in the University of California, Los Angeles from 1998 – 2001.  


Professor Smyth joins the Department on a three year secondment from her position with the HSE, on the terms and conditions advertised for the role.