Date Published: 4 December 2008

HRB Chairman stresses importance of continued investment in health research

Health News from Ireland (Eire)

The HRB will publish the HRB Annual report 2007 and A Picture of Health 2008 on Tuesday 4 November. The reports highlight the major outcomes from the HRB work and funded research.

According to HRB Chairman and former MD of Wyeth Biotech, Dr Reg Shaw;

"Even when times are tough, it is essential that we continue to invest in research because it leads to better health outcomes and care. Our reports published today clearly demonstrate these benefits.

Industry invests more in research when profits are down because they are investing in the future development and security of the company. On a parallel, the future of Irish health care will depend on continued efforts to leverage additional funding for health research. The HRB are committed to leading a step change in health research in Ireland. When we invest in research, we invest in the future of Irish health care and it is important that we don't loose sight of this.

"The HRB must maximise the benefit from our existing funding from the Department of Health and Children. But we also must be smart, sharp and innovative in our approach to seeking funding and building collaborations with others. This can be done nationally and internationally from public, philanthropic and private sources," he concludes.

The HRB currently have ?180 million invested across the Irish health research system. The Annual Report 2007 highlights just some of the key deliverables that will:

Deliver better effective treatments, therapies and medical equipment by funding innovative research programmes. Sample outcomes in 2007 include:

  • The discovery that using Manuka honey in the treatment of wounds, accelerates healing of the wounds and is also effective in the treatment of MRSA.
  • The identification of a protein involved in the spread of breast cancer and that measuring levels of the protein present may help to determine the aggressiveness of the cancer and dictate the severity of treatment required.
  • Finding out that there is economic justification to prescribe statins to people whose risk of heart disease is 15% or higher.

Create opportunities to develop research skills and capacity indigenously, such as ?19 million funding for four new HRB PhD Scholar schemes which will provide more structured and multi-disciplinary approach to PhD training. HRB scholars graduate from these schemes well equipped to meet the needs of an employment market outside 'academia'.

Support new infrastructure for health research, for example the announcement of a multi-million Euro HRB clinical research facility in Galway.

Ensure that decisions about health care are based on solid evidence for example; a new HRB report on alcohol highlighted health related consequences of problem alcohol use.

According to Mr Enda Connolly, Chief Executive at the HRB,

"Researchers in Ireland are conducting excellent health research that is delivering real results that will make a difference to people's lives. We think it is important to help people understand the link between investments in health research and the health care that they receive ? our Picture of Health booklet, is presented in a way that helps make this possible."

A total of 68 research projects and programmes were completed in 2007 representing a total HRB investment of ?11.5 million. The 17 stories highlighted in A Picture of Health provide a snapshot of how Irish health research is leading to better health care.

This year's book includes stories that range from potential new solutions for snoring, to how exercise can keep our brains young, and from new findings that could provide a cure for thyroid eye disease to the benefits of monitoring baby brainwaves. The stories captured represent the work of 50 researchers in 13 hospitals and academic institutions across Ireland.

Source(s): Health Research Board (Ireland).

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