€20 million investment for a new clinical research facility in Galway

Monday, 21 May 2007

The Health Research Board (HRB) and the Health Service Executive (HSE) have announced that they will jointly fund the establishment of a Clinical Research Facility in Galway. The aim of the HRB/HSE Clinical Research Facility (CRF) is to provide the infrastructure – the physical space, facilities and the experts - needed to support patient-focused research studies.

The investment by the HSE and the HRB will be of the order of €20m over five years. When fully operational, the Clinical Research Facility will employ a staff of 20. The research programme to be carried out at the facility will be through a partnership between NUI Galway researchers and clinician scientists from University Hospital Galway.

The Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney TD, who met recently with the lead researchers and funders, said that this investment is a major boost for clinical research and patient care in the West of Ireland.

'I have committed over €50m in capital funding through the Health Research Board over a five-year period to support key research programmes and infrastructure. This HRB/HSE Clinical Research Facility will provide a world-class environment for patient-focused research with real benefits for patients. It will enable clinicians, the health care industry and other key partners to test innovative therapies, technologies and products and increase the speed at which scientific discoveries and innovations can be translated into better patient care. It will also build on the major investment by this Government in basic research facilities at NUI Galway in recent years,' said Mary Harney.

The new facility will concentrate on patient-focused research and will make a real contribution to postgraduate research and training of health professionals. Medical doctors and nurses will work with other scientists to improve our understanding of a variety of diseases and to develop new tests and treatments to help tackle these diseases.

The Centre will provide patients with the latest advances in areas such as regenerative medicine, cancer, obstetrics and gynaecology, diabetes and inflammatory diseases. Importantly, support will also be provided for studies carried out in general practice settings through analysis of samples taken, provision of statistical support and co-ordination of studies. This will include research on the management of chronic diseases such as diabetes.

'Our guiding philosophy is to stimulate, engage and support health care professionals from diverse areas of expertise to undertake high quality research. The facility will be built as an annex to the existing University Hospital Galway and it is anticipated that it will be completed in 2009. The facility will contain specially designed rooms for gene and cell therapy. When it opens, it will complete the infrastructure present in Galway to allow clinical studies to be undertaken in areas such as heart, joint and spinal cord repair, ensuring an integrated bench to bedside approach,' said Professor Tim O'Brien, Consultant Endocrinologist at Galway University Hospital, Head of the Department of Medicine at NUI Galway and Director of the Regenerative Medicine Institute, a SFI-funded Centre for Science Engineering and Technology.

'The CRF will have a special focus on education of health care professionals in clinical research with plans to establish new programmes such as MSc in Clinical Research and Biostatistics and PhD programmes for clinicians', said Professor Larry Egan, Head of the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics and a co-applicant on the proposal.

'The development of Clinical Research Facilities here in Ireland is an indication of international excellence in clinical research,' said Dr Ruth Barrington. 'This is one of the most significant developments in Irish health research during my term of office,' said Dr Ruth Barrington, Chief Executive. 'The HRB have a strong track record working in partnership with Universities and Hospitals to support high quality research. We are delighted to engage with the HSE to support this landmark development in Galway,' she concluded.

Alan Moran, Hospitals Network Manager, HSE West, said; 'Putting the CRF in the heart of the Hospital will allow staff to contribute to shaping the latest advances in healthcare science, and to bring the benefits of those advances to patients as early as possible. The HSE is pleased to support the energy and imagination of the many individuals from the hospital and the university who conceived this project and who worked so effectively together to make it a reality'.

The CRF will be jointly governed by NUI Galway and the HSE, an example of the close ties which exist between the University and health sector in Galway. It will also connect with the new HRB / Wellcome Trust CRF at St James's Hospital Dublin and emerging facilities at Dublin teaching hospitals through the establishment of the Irish Clinical Research Infrastructure Network (ICRIN). The HRB and HSE have also funded ICRIN to help ensure a greater number of patients can benefit from clinical research in the most cost effective manner.

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