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Press Release

Press release

New HRB Discovery Centre

29 March 2011

Research into children's health is focus of new HRB Discovery Centre, Cork. More than 2,000 babies and children will benefit over the next six years from a new, dedicated paediatric research facility opening today in Cork. The Health Research Board (HRB) will invest more than ?58,000 in the HRB Discovery Centre where one of the leading research programmes will study why some children develop common diseases while others stay healthy.

Located in Cork University Hospital (CUH) the HRB Discovery Centre will provide the clinical space, IT infrastructure and office space to conduct clinical assessments. Five dedicated research staff will help ensure that the children are being cared for and that the research is carried out to the highest standards. Locating the new Centre at CUH is a strategic move due to the established paediatric research programmes and neo-natal care already in place at the hospital.

Lead researcher on the paediatric programme, Professor Jonathan Hourihane, Professor of Paediatrics and Child Health at CUH says;

'Locating in CUH will ensure that some of Ireland's leading paediatric researchers in University College Cork will benefit from the opportunity to link their research work to clinical care and training. The centre will support both new and existing research programmes'.

'For example; BASELINE, Ireland's first study to observe children from before birth up to two years of age will examine the development of allergies, metabolic problems such as bone health, diabetes and also common neuro-developmental problems in early life.  Because many adult conditions such as heart disease, obesity and asthma have their origins in childhood, we plan to extend this programme so we can observe the changes in the children as they get older and identify any potential changes or links which could increase understanding of how these epidemic diseases affect Irish children as they grow and become adults. 

'The centre will also be the Irish central point for an emerging international study called NEMO. This study aims to understand, and hopefully mitigate, the effects of hypotension (abnormally low blood pressure) in babies in the womb and related cellular damage that occurs within the brain and spinal cord as a result of the inadequate oxygen', he explains.

The HRB Discovery Centre is part of a much bigger HRB clinical research facility (CRF) and research programme currently being developed by University College Cork, Cork University Hospital and Mercy University Hospital and both centres will be part of a national research network supported by the HRB. The creation of a CRF in Cork represents a critical step towards the development of a clinical research environment within the hospitals in association with UCC. The CRF will facilitate and promote clinical research of an international standard and research results will improve people's health and patient care as well as providing research career opportunities.

According to Professor Damian O Connell, Director of the HRB Clinical Research Facility in Cork;

'The HRB Discovery Centre will be an integral part of the HRB Clinical Research Facility in Cork. While this latter facility is still undergoing development, we have already commenced a variety of research programmes in heart disease, cancer and pharmabiotics and nutrition. When the facility is finished later this year it will become an essential component and enabler of these existing high quality clinical research programmes extending their investigative range and depth while also affording an opportunity to open up new clinical research efforts'.

Speaking about this latest development in the national network of Clinical Research Facilities, Enda Connolly, Chief Executive at the HRB says;

'This HRB Discovery Centre at CUH, and its parent Clinical Research Facility is part of a much bigger plan to increase, develop and streamline health research in Ireland. It will link into a network of HRB clinical research facilities in Dublin, Cork and Galway. The aim of these facilities is to systematically bridge the gap from promising research into new drugs, medical devices or diagnostics that benefit patients and are actually useful in clinical care. This in turn will lead to commercial spin offs and economic benefits'.

ENDS

For more information contact:
Gillian Markey, Communications Manager
Health Research Board
m 00353 87 2288514
t 00353 1 2345103
e gmarkey(at)hrb.ie

or

Marie McSweeney, Press Officer, University College Cork,
t 021 4902371
m 086 0845182
mariemcsweeney(at)ucc.ie

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