Date Published: 3 April 2008

€10 million for HRB Research Centres to tackle specific health needs (Ireland)

Health News from Ireland (Eire)

People suffering from diabetes or obesity and vulnerable patient groups including the elderly, children, pregnant women and drug users will benefit from new research which will be conducted in two virtual' HRB Research Centres. Mary Harney, Minister for Health and Children, will announce 10 million in funding through the Strategy for Science Technology and Innovation (SSTI) today to fund the centres which will provide a hub for health research efforts of eleven universities, institutions and hospitals.

Health Research Centres are virtual hubs for research across a number of disciplines and institutions, driven by a common health priority and a commitment to improve healthcare. The aim is to ensure that: -

  • the research is driven by identified needs within the health system nationally
  • the research findings around a common priority area are shared and any duplication of effort is avoided
  • the outcomes of research are relevant and applied to the health system
  • the research will be translated into care or lead to a change in practice

Announcing the funding Minister Harney said:

" Scientific and health research are sectors which open up great potential for those who are committed to innovation. It is a clear sign of progress to see national health priorities being targeted in a coordinated manner that will focus expertise and effort, help achieve economies of scale and encourage information sharing that will lead to improvements in patient care. "

According to Dr Mairead O Driscoll, Director of Research Funding and Strategy at the HRB:

"These Health Research Board Centres are the first to be established in Ireland. They will meet a demand for a better understanding of how to tackle dietary problems and the needs of vulnerable patient groups. Our objective is to support research linked to national health priorities to improve people's health and the effectiveness of the health system and these centres will help to achieve this."

The HRB centre for Primary Care Research will have its virtual base in the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. The research team will undertake a programme of work that examines the quality of care provided to vulnerable patient groups - the elderly, children, pregnant women and drug users. Through the research programmes the team hope to: -

  • identify quality standards for safer prescribing of medicines for Irish patients
  • improve diagnosis in primary care so that patients receive appropriate and timely treatment or referrals if required
  • develop new Information and Communications Technologies that will improve patient care and promote self-management among patients with chronic illness.

According to Professor Tom Fahey, Principal Investigator at the centre:

" Funding for this HRB Centre for Primary Care Research is important because it recognises that we can do more to identify and improve the quality of medical care that vulnerable patient groups in Ireland receive. "

The HRB Centre for Diet, Diabetes and Obesity will have its virtual base in University College Cork. This centre will be co-funded by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. The research team aim to produce internationally competitive research that will contribute to the evidence base for public policy, health promotion and clinical practice on the prevention and management of obesity, diabetes and related metabolic disorders. The research team aim to: -

  • better align public policy with research findings on diet and obesity in Ireland
  • contribute to the knowledge based economy by developing an e-learning inter-institutional MSc programme in Public Health Nutrition for staff employed in the healthcare system on the island of Ireland
  • make the best use of the databases that we already have on diet and health in Ireland to study population trends in obesity, diabetes, heart disease and related conditions
  • increase our understanding of the factors influencing consumer food choice
  • harness, co-ordinate and promote the activities of academics, practitioners and policy makers working in the food and health sectors in Ireland.

According to Prof Ivan Perry, Principal Investigator at the Centre:

" This HRB centre for Diet, Diabetes and Obesity will provide the opportunity to address fundamental research questions on the prevention and management of obesity and diabetes as part of an internationally competitive research consortium."


Source: Health Research Board (HRB), Ireland.

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