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HRB Review of clinical research infrastructure in Ireland

The HRB has invested €160 million in clinical research infrastructure on behalf of the Irish Government over the past 10 years. In order to inform future investment in this area the HRB recently conducted a review, to increase understanding of the diversity, synergies and capabilities of our clinical research infrastructures to date.

Review of Clinical Research Infrastructures in Ireland front cover

According to Darrin Morrissey, Chief Executive at the Health Research Board,

‘This HRB has invested significantly in clinical research infrastructure to improve people’s health and increase international investment in this area. This report creates a better understanding of both the challenges and opportunities seen across Ireland’s clinical research infrastructure. It will help inform how the HRB strategically prioritise future investment in this area'.

Clinical trials benefit patients, advance medical knowledge and contribute to the Irish economy. Clinical research infrastructures enable the Irish health research community to be at the forefront of high-quality clinical research activity, including clinical trials.

According to Oonagh Ward, Programme manager for Infrastructures, Networks and Interventions at the HRB and lead author of the report,

‘This review shows that to successfully deliver clinical research infrastructure that will result in better health and care for all, we need to avoid geographical inconsistencies and embed clinical research as an integral part of our healthcare system. This will require collective action between the Department of Health, the Health Service Executive, the funding agencies and others'.

Key findings in the review include

As of May 2018, HRB-funded clinical research infrastructures in Ireland were:

  • creating approximately 440 highly educated and skilled jobs
  • enabling the conduct of approximately 570 clinical trials/studies to benefit Irish people’s health and care.

Clinical research activity is happening in isolated pockets, and not as part of a cohesive national research system.

A coordinated, integrated national approach is needed to support clinical research infrastructures.

Ireland needs to establish a Research and Development (R&D) Forum in health under the Sláintecare Implementation Strategy in 2019 to address the current lack of coordination between different initiatives, research entities, and Government agencies in order to ensure that we achieve a more strategic national approach to investment in clinical research infrastructures in Ireland and the research they support.

The health family (i.e. the DOH, the HSE and the HRB) and others need to invest more collectively in the clinical research infrastructure for a more consistent and cohesive national system that values research and embeds clinical research into usual care.

We will use the findings of this report to shape our next investment in Clinical Research Facilities/Centres in Ireland working with members of the health family i.e. Department of Health, the HSE and others.