Aileen O'Gorman

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Personal profile


Aileen O'Gorman BA MSc PhD is Professor of Substance Use and Social Policy and Programme Leader of the MSc in Contemporary Drug and Alcohol Studies (CDAS). Her primary research focus is on social and health inequalities. She has a special interest in the problematisation of social issues such as poverty and drug use; the unequal distribution of drug-related harms and deaths in marginalised communities; and, the role of policy in the production and reproduction of harms and inequalities.

Dr O’Gorman is an active participant in policy advocacy and research networks nationally and internationally. She is an appointed member of the Steering Group on the SG Drugs Research Network Scotland (DRNS) and academic lead for drug-related harms. She is Board Director of the Scottish Drugs Forum, and of the European Society for Social Drugs Research (ESSD); and, a member of international editorial board of the journal Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy. Formerly, she lead the Athena SWAN initiative at UWS and was Chairperson of a low-threshold drugs service - the Rialto Community Drugs Team, Dublin

Prior to joining UWS, Dr O’Gorman was a Lecturer and Co-ordinator of the Drugs Education and Research Partnership Initiative at University College Dublin (UCD); senior researcher at the National Advisory Committee on Drugs, Ireland; community researcher on the Fatima Mansions (Dublin) housing regeneration project; and a researcher at the Health Research Board, Ireland; the Centre for Urban and Community Research, Goldsmiths, University of London; and the Drug Indicators Project, Birkbeck College, University of London.

Current research activities

Dr O’Gorman has a successful history of securing national and international funding for research and knowledge exchange; designing and project managing research studies; establishing and leading research teams; managing financial expenditure; and, disseminating research findings to impact on policy and practice. Currently, she is Principal Investigator on two externally funded research: Preventing drug-related deaths: the role of Primary Care (funded by Scottish Government’s Drug Death Task Force); a Social autopsy of drug-related deaths among young people in Scotland (funded by the Corra Foundation).

Dr O’Gorman’s signature research is participative, engages with the communities affected, and has an impact on policy and practice in relation to drug and social policy reform. She works closely with experts by experience (people who are marginalised, stigmatised, and/or use drugs); civil society and community development organisations; policy makers and advisors; and service providers to ensure her research is relevant, equitable and accessible.

Current teaching activities and interests

Dr O’Gorman’s research draws on a career that spans the third sector, government as well as academia – an expertise that informs her teaching and the development of the Contemporary Drug and Alcohol Studies programme. She is module co-ordinator for postgraduate modules on Understanding Substance Use; the Politics of Drug and Alcohol Policy; Drugs and Culture; and, the MSc CDAS dissertation. In addition, she contributes to postgraduate teaching across the School of Education and Social Sciences.

Target collaborative organisations

Drugs Research Network Scotland

Scottish Drugs Forum

Alcohol and Drug Partnerships, Scotland 

Substance Misuse Unit, Scottish Government

Drug Strategy Unit, Department of Health, Ireland

European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction

Harm Reduction International 

International Society for the study of Drugs Policy

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 1 - No Poverty
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals

External positions

2017, Drugs Research Network Scotland

2017 → …

Board of Management, Scottish Drugs Forum

2017 → …

Scientific Committee , International Society for the Study of Drugs Policy (ISSDP)

2016 → …

Steering Group, Scottish Drugs Policy Conversations

2015 → …

Board of Management , European Society for Social Drugs Research (ESSD)

2014 → …

International Editorial Board , Drugs: education, prevention and policy - journal

2012 → …


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