Matej Košir – President
Matej Košir is the Director of UTRIP (www.institut-utrip.si). He has been working in the field of addiction prevention and public health advocacy for the last 20 years. He is an author, co-author and reviewer of scientific articles and papers. He has been a Postgraduate Research Assistant at Oxford Brookes University (UK) (2015-2016). He is a coordinator of the Prevention Platform network, which includes more than 40 supporting institutions and organisations in Slovenia. He was also a senior consultant of the World Bank in the field of alcohol policy and prevention between January 2017 and June 2019. He has been awarded by the European Society for Prevention Research (EUSPR) with “Leading European Prevention Science Practitioner Honour” in 2017. He has been awarded (together with his wife Sanela Talić) by the Society for Prevention Research (SPR) with “International Collaborative Prevention Research Award” in 2020. He is a PhD in Prevention Science student at the University of Zagreb (Croatia). He is a Deputy Chairperson of the Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs (VNGOC).
Andrea Mohan, PhD, MPH, MPhil, BSc – Vice President/President Elect
Dr. Andrea Mohan is a Lecturer in the School of Nursing and Health Sciences at the University of Dundee from January 2020. She previously worked as a Research Assistant at the Institute for Social Marketing, University of Stirling from 2017-2019. She is working on projects that focus on alcohol policy such as drink-driving and alcohol licensing, and on the lived experiences of people with alcohol dependence. Her research background is in public health, health promotion and behaviour change in socially-deprived populations. She previously coordinated a public engagement group based at the University of Stirling that met to discuss current topics on alcohol and unhealthy food.
Andrea was co-opted as co-Secretary to ICARA in January 2019, and assumed the post of Vice President in November 2021.
Niamh Fitzgerald, PhD, BSc (2nd Class Hons) – Immediate Past President
Professor Niamh Fitzgerald is a Professor of Alcohol Studies at the Institute for Social Marketing, University of Stirling, where she has led on teaching and public engagement on alcohol for the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies since 2014. Niamh is also the deputy director of the SPECTRUM (Shaping public health policies to reduce inequalities and harm) research consortium (2019-2024). Funded by the UK Prevention Research Partnership, SPECTRUM aims to conduct research to prevent and address harm to health from unhealthy commodities by using systems science to identify and evaluate solutions. Niamh co-ordinates an annual alcohol policy residential workshop and a public involvement group at Stirling for SPECTRUM.
Niamh specialises in mixed methods alcohol policy research and have broad interests within that field. Current areas of focus include retail premises licensing, drink driving limits, minimum unit pricing, framing in alcohol policy debates, conflicts of interest, and alcohol use in pregnancy. Niamh is recognised internationally for her work on alcohol brief interventions, having advised WHO-Europe, NHS Health Scotland and several European governments.
Niamh regularly contributes to radio/TV and print news on alcohol. Her work has previously led to statements from Scottish Government and questions in parliament.
Niamh was elected to the ICARA board in 2016 and assumed the post of President in 2018 until November 2021.
Rachel Barry – Secretary
Dr. Rachel Barry is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Global Health Policy Unit at the University of Edinburgh, where she conducts research on tobacco control governance for the Tobacco Control Capacity Programme (TCCP). Funded by the UK Global Challenges Research Fund, the TCCP examines governance challenges and opportunities for comprehensive implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control across five different low-and-middle-income countries. Previously, Rachel was a research assistant at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Centre for Tobacco Control Research and Education (2013-2017). This research involved analysing corporate interest in cannabis legalisation and the relevance and influence of tobacco and alcohol policy on cannabis and e-cigarette policy debates and development, comparatively assessing US policies to regulate newly emergent markets.
Rachel has substantial experience in applied health policy research with particular expertise in qualitative methods. Her current research interests include understanding governance challenges to achieving policy coherence across health and other policies; the interplay between health, agriculture, sustainable development and finance agendas; and the relationship between neoliberalism, the commercial determinants of health and governance mechanisms over the supply of unhealthy commodities. Rachel is widely recognised for her work on cannabis regulation, having served as an expert policy advisor for Health Canada’s Cannabis Legalization and Regulation Secretariat and the Lt. Governor of California’s Marijuana Policy Commission. She is also a member of the Drug Research Network Scotland (DRNS). Her research has received widespread media attention, including interviews with several high-profile news outlets such as Time Magazine, Vice News, Healthline and US National Public Radio.
Rachel was appointed as Secretary of ICARA in November 2021.
Jenni Savonen – Treasurer, M.Soc.Sci
Jenni Savonen is a social psychologist finishing her PhD at the University of Helsinki, Finland. Her research is on the social representations of illicit drug use – on how this societal group is perceived by others and how it affects policies and identity construction. Jenni has worked also with other dependence-related projects at the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare and is currently the secretary of the Finnish Society for Alcohol, Drug and Gambling research.
Jenni was appointed as Treasurer of ICARA in November 2021.
Riikka Perälä – Board member
Dr. Riikka Perälä received her PhD in sociology in 2012 from the University of Helsinki. Her research interests cover in a variety of ways the positions of people suffering from substance abuse problems in welfare policy and welfare service provision. She has investigated these issues in the context of needle and syringe exchange programs, opioid substitution treatment programs and housing first policy. She is specialized in the ethnographic method. Currently, she is working as a coordinator of development and advocacy work in substance ombudsman’s office in Finnish Association for Substance Abuse Prevention.
Riikka previously served as Treasurer of ICARA from 2018 to 2021, and was appointed as an Ordinary Board member in November 2021.
Neo Morojele, PhD – Board Member
Prof Neo Morojele is a Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa. She is also an Honorary Professor in the School of Public Health at the University of the Witwatersrand and the School of Public Health and Family Medicine at the University of Cape Town, and serves as a Consultant to the Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Research Unit of the South African Medical Research Council. Her current research focuses on alcohol use and HIV; alcohol policy; and access to substance use disorder treatment among men in South Africa. She is a Co-Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Alcohol and Drug Research; Associate Editor for Africa for the Journal of Substance Use; and an Associate Editor of the African Journal of Drug and Alcohol Studies.
Neo was appointed as an Ordinary Board member in 2018, and was re-elected to the role in November 2021
Joel Msafiri Francis, MD, MSc, PhD – Board Member
Joel is an epidemiologist, and senior researcher at the University of the Witwatersrand, School of Clinical Medicine, Department of Family Medicine, and Primary Care.
Prior to joining WITS, he worked as a research scientist with the National Institute for Medical Research in Tanzania and a research fellow with the Department of Global Health and Population at Harvard T.H.Chan School of Public Health, Harvard University. He holds a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree (equivalent to MBBCh) from the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and an MSc in Epidemiology from Harvard University, USA, and a PhD in Epidemiology from the University of London (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine), UK. His primary areas of research interests include Alcohol and Other Drug Use, HIV, Mental Health, Implementation Science and Epidemiology.
He serves in the editorial boards of three BMC series journals (BMC- Public Health & BMC – Global Health Research and Policy, BMC -Infectious Diseases), the PLOS One journal, a statistical editor for the Health Policy and Planning Journal, an editorial advisor at the BMJ Open journal and the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.
He is rated at NRF-C2 level by the South Africa National Research Foundation (NRF).
He was appointed to the ICARA board in November 2021.
Richard Purves, PhD, MSc, BSc (Hons) – Board Member
Richard Purves is a Research Fellow at the Institute for Social Marketing and Health, University of Stirling. Richard’s background is in qualitative research and his primary research interests involve studying the impact of commercial marketing on addictive behaviours (alcohol, tobacco, HFSS foods, gambling).
Dr Purves is well known for his work in the field of alcohol marketing and sports sponsorship and his previous work has examined the nature and frequency of alcohol and gambling marketing during major sporting events such as the UEFA EURO 2016 football tournament and the 2020 Six Nations Rugby Union Championship. Richard is currently the principal investigator on two ESRC-funded projects in sports settings: one aims to investigate the role alcohol plays in UK football fans’ match day experiences; and the other is focused on the COVID-19 mitigation measures in place at the EURO 2020 football tournament. Richard’s other work includes learning from international implementation of alcohol marketing regulations, developing a peer-led, gambling education intervention, and exploring the role of public health teams in alcohol licensing.
Isabelle Uny, PhD – Board Member
Dr Isabelle Uny is a Research Fellow at the Institute for Social Marketing and Health. She is an experienced qualitative researcher and a social scientist and an experienced qualitative researcher specialising in Global Health. Her research focuses on alcohol policy implementation both in the UK but also in LMICs Global Health. She heads a project called RAPSSA ( “Regulating alcohol packaging and supply to protect health in Sub-Saharan Africa: evidence from policy systems in Malawi and Uganda” which will explore perceptions of the implementation of the ban on alcohol sachets/ small packaging in both countries. She is a co-applicant/ researcher on the IRAPS project (“ Interdisciplinary Research into political interest, civil society support and available data to strengthen Alcohol Policy Systems in Brazil and Peru “ (led by Prof. N. Fitzgerald). In the UK she is a researcher on the ELEPHANT (a study Evaluating Later or Expanded Premises Hours for Alcohol in the Night-Time economy, in Aberdeen and Glasgow) and on the IMPAACT study, which is using in-depth interviews with ambulance staff to explore how they experience, identify, handle and record alcohol-related call-outs ( both led by Prof. N. Fitzgerald). Isa’s Global Health research uses a ‘decolonised’ approach and focuses on indigenous and local knowledge and forms of data co-construction which promote community engagement and foster justice and equality. A large part of her work is focused on capacity building and multidirectional learning between global North and Global South.
Isabelle was elected to the ICARA board in 2021.
Samantha Thomas, PhD – Board Member
Professor Samantha Thomas is Professor of Public Health at the Institute for Health Transformation, Faculty of Health, Deakin University, Australia where she currently leads the Public Health Policy, Engagement and Advocacy team. Samantha is an internationally recognised scholar and advocate on public health responses to harmful industries.
Professor Thomas is most well known for her research in the area of gambling harm prevention. Her team at Deakin focuses on the impact of gambling industry tactics and government policies on gambling harm. While most well known for their work on the impact of gambling marketing on the normalisation of gambling for children and young people, Samantha’s team also critically examines the impact of gambling industry strategies on women and young men, the normalisation of gambling for older adults, and ‘responsible gambling’ paradigms in public education campaigns. Other areas of research outside of gambling include understanding the impact of alcohol marketing on women, and youth engagement strategies for climate change.
In the last five years, Professor Thomas has received grants for gambling research from the Australian Research Council, the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, the Office of Gaming NSW, Deakin University, and Gamble with Lives. She has testified to numerous government inquiries relating to gambling, and regularly comments in national and international media.
She was appointed to the ICARA board in November 2021.