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Funding agencies secure €8.8 million for health and social care research

4 April 2017

Health funding agencies in Northern Ireland (HSC R&D) and Ireland (HRB) have secured an €8.8 million investment to fund 10 healthcare intervention trials in Northern Ireland and border region* in Ireland. The funding comes from the special EU Programmes Body through the INTERREG VA programme which aims to address economic and social challenge that result from the existence of borders.

Many health trials currently take place in major centres in bigger cities, where patients are referred for specialist treatment. This project will allow participation in trials outside of these centres in a broader range of settings, including primary care, regional hospitals and the community.

The project, known as the Cross-Border Healthcare Intervention Trials in Ireland Network (CHITIN), will help develop and expand research infrastructure and deliver training that enhance capability to do further research. It will also enhance all-Ireland partnerships for researchers and health professionals. This will help to create a legacy for the future across the eligible area which includes Northern Ireland and the border counties* of Ireland, including Donegal, Leitrim, Sligo, Cavan, Monaghan and Louth.

This project builds on an existing partnership between the Health Research Board (HRB) in Ireland and the Health and Social Care Research and Development (HSC R&D) Division of the Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland.  

According to Dr Mairead O'Driscoll, Interim Chief Executive at the Health Research Board (HRB),

‘Building capacity in clinical trials that improve people’s health and healthcare delivery is a key focus for the Health Research Board. The great thing about this partnership is that it creates the opportunity to do research in areas outside large specialist centres, in communities and primary care settings. The learning and health benefits that we get from this also have the potential to extend throughout the island of Ireland'.

Outlining the importance of the funding award, Doctor Janice Bailie, Assistant Director of HSC R&D Division  said,

‘This award gives us an exciting opportunity to enrich our existing partnership working with our colleagues in HRB, jointly commission research involving communities with whom we would not otherwise have been in a position to engage, and support the development of innovative cross-border interventions that have real potential to bring improvements in health and social care services and benefits to service users’.  

Dr O'Driscoll concludes,

‘We are creating a fantastic opportunity in these regions. We will see patient benefits, innovations in health care and enduring progress in health and social care as a result of this investment’.

Researchers who are interested will find information about the funding call at the links below.

Proposals for trials will be submitted for consideration by an expert review panel through an open funding call. 


For more information contact Gillian Markey, Communications Manager, HRB. t 00353 87 2288514 e gmarkey(at)

Notes to editors

  • €8.8 million has been awarded to HSC R&D Division and HRB for the Cross-Border Healthcare Intervention Trials in Ireland Network (CHITIN) project by the Special EU Programmes Body. This total includes match-funding of 15% provided by the Departments of Health in both Northern Ireland and Ireland.
  • The Special EU Programmes Body is a North/South Implementation body sponsored by the Department of Finance in Northern Ireland and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in Ireland. It is responsible for managing two EU Structural Funds Programmes, PEACE IV and INTERREG VA which are designed to enhance cross-border cooperation, promote reconciliation and create a more peaceful and prosperous society.
  • The programmes operate within a clearly defined area including Northern Ireland, the border region of Ireland and in the case of INTERREG VA, Western Scotland.
  • *The eligible area for the CHITIN project is Northern Ireland and the border region of Ireland, including counties Donegal; Leitrim; Sligo; Cavan; Monaghan; and Louth.
  • The INTERREG VA Programme has a value of €283 million and aims to address the economic and social problems which result from the existence of borders.

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