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Press Release

Press release

Irish researchers performing well in European Health Research

15 July 2016

Irish health researchers have secured over €31million in funding from Europe’s flagship research programme, Horizon 2020 as part of the €275 million draw down by Ireland, announced by Minister for Skills, Training and Innovation, Mr John Halligan, T.D.

The Health Research Board (HRB) recognises, values, and supports engagement in EU-funded research as a fundamental tool to increase the impact research has on society and the economy.

Irish health researchers are successfully competing at the highest level for EU funding.  These latest results show Irish research institutions, SMEs, hospitals, multinationals and public agencies now working in high-calibre health research collaborations with our European counterparts.  

Highlights include:

  • 35 Irish projects funded with six of these being led by Ireland.
  • The main areas of interest for Irish researchers are in: the use of technology for patient centred care and healthy ageing, the use of mesenchymal stromal cells in the treatment of kidney disease and osteoarthritis, and projects tackling second hand smoke and strategies to prevent youth smoking.
  • Health agencies and hospitals involved as successful partners within EU research teams.
  • ICT for Health is a strong new growth area for health researchers with three of the six coordinators funded receiving €6 million between them for projects in this area.
  • The innovative nature of Health SMEs recognised with four companies sharing over €12 million.
  • A growing Irish interest in applying for EU health research funding, matched by above average success rates. 

According to Dr Graham Love, Chief Executive of the Health Research Board, the primary funder of health research in Ireland, "Competition for Horizon 2020 funds in the health area is particularly fierce. Our level of success in this field shows us that the health research community in Ireland is punching well above its weight."

Among the projects being led by Ireland are:

  1. Professor Tim O’Brien, REMEDI, NUI Galway is leading a project (NEPHSTROM) on a clinical trial in the area of diabetic kidney disease (among the most dangerous associated diseases of type 2 diabetes).  This condition leads to the deaths of about 126,000 Europeans a year and is a leading cause of kidney failure. The trial is one of a series of steps to determine whether the treatment is effective and safe for patients with this life-threatening condition.

    In most cases of kidney damage caused by the disease, there is no effective medical treatment. The main treatments are drugs, dialysis and kidney transplants, all of which have significant costs and only provide limited protection against adverse outcomes. In response, NEPHSTROM is exploring a novel therapy using a special type of stem cell known as a ‘mesenchymal stromal cell’ (MSC). Stromal stem cells have the ability to help regulate the body's immune responses.
  2. PMD Solutions, an SME based in Cork, received €4.2 million in funding from the SME Instrument (Phase 2) to develop a new respiratory monitoring device to improve patient outcomes.

    'RespiraSense' the world's first continuous and accurate discrete sensor measures the 'mechanics of respiration' (i.e. the way the chest and gut moves during breathing) to give medical staff the earliest signs of possible patient deterioration from conditions such as respiratory compromise, increasing severity of sepsis, worsening pneumonia, and oncoming heart attacks. The device, a discrete wireless sensor, is placed on the patient's chest at admission and worn continuously until discharge to deliver highly accurate measurements, which is ideally designed for general ward patients who are alert and active. RespiraSense is currently being used in hospitals in Ireland (Galway University Hospital and Cork University Hospital) and in Germany, and Hong Kong.

The Health research Board hosts the National Delegate role and one of two National Contact Point roles for Horizon 2020 health to assist Irish health researchers with the application process.

Further details on successful researchers are available on the HRB website at:

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