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Quality PhD training a key focus of new HRB funding - Ireland

Health News from the Republic of Ireland (Eire).

The Health Research Board has taken further action to increase number and quality of PhD researchers in Ireland by launching a second call to invite institutions to run an HRB scholars programme. Applications are invited from institutions to run these four-year PhD programmes in the areas of clinical and biomedical science, health services research or epidemiology and public health. Up to €5 million is available for each successful application, which will cover an intake of four to eight scholars each year, for four years.

Recent government reports clearly identify the need for a substantial increase in the number of researchers in Ireland by 2013 in order to support a system of innovation in Ireland. The new Strategy for Science Technology and Innovation 2006–2013 also emphasises the need to improve the quality of training for early stage researchers and a more structured and multidisciplinary approach to fourth level education.

"The HRB were the first Irish research agency to respond to concerns about the quality of PhD training in Ireland by launching a pilot PhD scholars training scheme in 2004", said Ruth Barrington, Chief Executive at the Health Research Board.

"These pilot sites are now considered a strong model for the development of PhD training, so we are delighted that we can extend the scheme and contribute to the national goal of increasing the number and quality of PhD researchers here".'

The purpose of the HRB scholars' programme is to improve the quality of PhD training in health research by making the study process broader in focus and to ensure collaboration between students in different groups. Transferable skills, including project management and communications, as well as knowledge and understanding of the broader research environment, are an integral part of the training. So far, two HRB scholars' programmes are established and 19 scholars are on their way to successfully completing their PhD training.

Additional funding has also been announced today as part of the HRB Investment Programme for Health and Wealth, which has been supported by the Department of Health and Children with funding of €50 million for the period 2005–2009. This programme was designed to support the development of careers, programmes, buildings and equipment for health research with the ultimate aim of improving patient outcomes.

This programme will provide additional funding to support three different awards schemes.

  • Clinician Scientists: Five-year funding is available for medically or professionally qualified researchers to be released from their service commitments to dedicate time to patient-centred research (€1.5 million per award).
  • Translational research awards: Teams of researchers will be supported for research programmes that apply ideas and discoveries to the treatment or prevention of human disease (€1.5 million per award).
  • Health services R&D awards: This scheme will support research projects related to day-to-day practices of health and social services that will have demonstrable impacts on health and healthcare. (€1.25 million per award)

The deadline for applications or expressions of interest under all of these funding schemes is in October 2006. Guidance notes and information about the awards can be found in the funding section of the HRB website at www.hrb.ie



Source: Health Research Board (Ireland).

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