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Meet our Project Team

Dr Eilish Burke (Associate Director of the Trinity Centre for Ageing and Intellectual Disability and Ussher Assistant Professor)

    Dr Burke was appointed as the Ussher Assistant Professor in Ageing and Intellectual Disability, TCD in September 2016. She originally trained as a general nurse and then in the field of intellectual disability now having over 25 years’ experience in this area.

    Her specific area of interest is bone health and health assessment with her related research interests include physical health and wellbeing, inclusionary methods of healthcare screening and healthcare engagement, accessible health promotion and promoting research involvement of people with intellectual disability.

    Her research is situated within the Intellectual Disability Supplement to The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (IDS-TILDA) where she has worked for 10 years. She designed an accessible health assessment in 2013 for inclusion in the longitudinal study and led its roll out in the second wave of data collection and now in Wave 4 of the IDS-TILDA study.

    Dr. Burke is the Associate Director of the Trinity Center for Ageing and Intellectual Disability (TCAID) and is leading the physical health theme of the TCAID guiding the future focus of this theme. Dr Burke is the PI of the EIT Health European project ‘Get Wise about your Health’ developing health education programmes for individuals with intellectual disability. Administratively Dr. Burke is the Director of the Masters in Ageing Health and Wellbeing in Intellectual Disability in the School of Nursing and Midwifery in TCD, which is a new and unique course she designed underpinned and led by the research emanating from the IDS-TILDA study. Dr Burke is a committed teacher and has been involved in education throughout her career. Her contribution to education and the profession has included co-ordination and development of modules and courses at undergraduate and post graduate level and she is currently the external examiner at Queens University Belfast. She has extensive experience supervising students at masters and PhD level. Dr. Burke has a number of publications and has disseminated widely through national and international conferences.


Dr Esther Murphy (Research Fellow - TCAID Technology and Innovation Lead)

    Dr Esther Murphy is TCAID’s Technology & Innovation Lead, developing TCAID as the national hub for technology and service partnerships through user involvement.

    Esther holds a PhD in Disability Studies and MA in Intercultural Studies from Dublin City University. Esther has twelve years work experience in social science disability and inclusive technology research, teaching and practice in academia and non-governmental sectors. Previously at the Centre for Inclusive Technology and TCD’s School of Education Esther was Co-PI for an Erasmus + 2 year funded project ‘Digital Champions in Europe’ which led to the co-creation of a peer support platform for people with disabilities to enhance digital literacy and competence with assistive technologies. Esther also previously worked as a postdoctoral researcher at TCD’s School of Education, supervising Masters in Special Education students and leading a range of inclusive education events; such as, the HEA funded inaugural digital inclusion workshop for students with visual impairment. Esther has also worked as P.I. for two Association for Higher Education Access & Disability (AHEAD) funded national projects; Giving voice to blind and visually impaired students transition experiences, addressing gaps in policy and provision (2014) and Mental Health Matters: Mapping Best Practices in Higher Education (2016) with the National Learning Network. Esther has also lectured and designed Research Methods modules for the Trinity Centre for People with Intellectual Disabilities.

    Since Esther joined Trinity Centre for Ageing & Intellectual Disability in 2017 she has contributed to a number of national projects; HRB funded systematic review of the impact of desinstitutionalization on quality of life and costs for people with intellectual disabilities and NDA funded study on the impact of person centred planning on achieving social integration goals. Most recently Esther led a statistical analysis study of IDS-TILDA data to explore the relationship between technology and social inclusion.

    Currently Esther is working on a partnership project with Stewarts Care Services to evaluate the use of a navigation app (Way2b) for adults with intellectual disabilities to enhance health and social inclusion outcomes. At TCAID Esther is also team member of 2 Health EIT funded EU consortia projects focused on improving physical and mental health of people with intellectual disabilities; ‘GetWise to your Health’ and ‘SOOTHE’. For each project Esther has key responsibility for user engagement in the co-creation of accessible technologies. Currently Esther is leading the development of our “Let’s Stay Connected Campaign’ an initiative to support positive well being during COVID-19. Esther is a current invited member of HSE’s Digital Strategy Collaborathon and The Irish Platform for Patient Organisations, Science and Industry (IPPOSI) Working Group to develop digital solutions for patient record management. Esther regularly presents research at national and international conferences, and is often invited to give guest lectures, recently presenting her digital inclusion research at Stanford University’s Neurodiversity Symposium. Esther recently won an Irish Research Council New Foundations Award as P.I to lead a project to explore questions of social and digital inclusion with people with intellectual disabilities in Ireland with the aim to provide preliminary data to develop social and digital strategies and interventions based on this research.


Dr Alyt Oppewal (Human Movement Scientist and Assistant Professor at the Chair of Intellectual Disability Medicine, and teacher at the Specialist Training Intellectual Disability Medicine, Department of General Practice, Erasmus MC, University Medical Center Rotterdam, the Netherlands)

    In 2012 I started my PhD project within the ‘Healthy Ageing and Intellectual Disabilities (HA-ID)’ study at the Chair of Intellectual Disability Medicine at the Department of General Practice of the Erasmus MC. I studied how to measure physical fitness in older adults with ID, resulting in a standardized physical fitness test battery (ID-fitscan). Additionally, I started to unravel the importance of physical fitness for healthy ageing in people with intellectual disabilities.

    After defending my thesis in 2014, I continued this line of work by building my own research line. My research line is part of our research program ‘Physical activity and fitness in adults with intellectual disabilities’ aimed 1) to better understand why physical activity appears to be so intense, 2) to improve the effectiveness of programs to promote physical activity, and 3) to demonstrate effectiveness of physical activity programs on general and specific outcomes. My work mainly focusses on the first and third aim.

    With regard to understanding why physical activity appears to be so intense (aim 1), I have a special interest in motor control and cognition. For aim 3, demonstrating the effectiveness of physical activity programs, we perform several intervention studies, epidemiological studies, and clinimetric studies. For example, within the HA-ID study we look at the longitudinal relationships between physical activity and fitness and health outcomes.

    The goal of my work is to give people with intellectual disabilities the same changes to be physically active and maintain a healthy lifestyle, so that they can have a fit, healthy and happy life.

    Dr Alyt Oppewal can be contacted at


Holly Dennehy (Research Assistant)

    Holly holds a BSc Psychology from University of Limerick

    Her research Interests include:

    Intellectual disability

    Positive Psychology

    Holly joined the IDS-TILDA team in March 2020 as a Research Assistant. She has worked as an Assistant Psychologist and Special Needs Assistant since graduating from the University of Limerick in 2018.

    Holly can be contacted at

    Holly is responsible for updating the projects Instagram and Twitter accounts


Anna Bakker (Research Assistant)

    Anna graduated from the University of Maastricht in 2018, she holds an Msc in Health Education and Promotion.

    Her research interests include:

    - Chronic disability

    - Self-sustainability

    - Health communication

    Anna joined the Healthy Ageing – Intellectual Disability team in March 2020 as a Research Assistant. She previously worked as a homecare nurse, where she worked with elderly, clients with mental health impairments and people with a physical or intellectual disability.

    Anna can be contacted at