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HRB awards €11 million to train Ireland’s future clinical academic leaders

This second phase of Health Research Board (HRB) funding for the Irish Clinical Academic Training (ICAT 2) programme will equip clinical academics and clinician scientists across the island of Ireland to address the challenges of an evolving global health agenda in innovative ways.

Group of clinical students

ICAT 2 is a unique all-Ireland partnership*. It provides excellent postgraduate training across all disciplines of human medicine, veterinary medicine and dentistry**, integrating PhD research training of the highest quality with higher specialist training. 

According to Dr Mairéad O’Driscoll, Chief Executive of the HRB:

“The HRB is committed to building a strong and supportive environment for health and social care research in Ireland. ICAT 2 is the perfect example of this, as it fosters a positive and respectful research culture that embraces cross-disciplinary, cross-institutional, cross-border and collaborative research.

“ICAT 2 also represents our ambition to train and develop researchers who will generate ideas, drive the integration of research and evidence into policy and practice, and improve decision-making and health outcomes. All of this is key to the vibrant and sustainable research ecosystem for which the HRB strives.”

Key features of ICAT 2 include:
  • Integrated clinical and academic training across all specialties of human medicine, veterinary medicine and dentistry in a fair, diverse and balanced manner
  • Well-supported, mentored and highly networked environment
  • Collaborative, cross-disciplinary and cross-institutional approach
  • Trained clinical academics of the highest international calibre
  • Aligned with key national and international healthcare and research strategies translationally focused on relevant and important knowledge gaps.
This will be achieved by:
  • Strengthening connections with service providers, policy makers and advocacy organisations to ensure scholarships and training focus on areas of high priority
  • Engaging with Principal Investigators (PIs) from a wider set of disciplinary backgrounds to ensure scholars are placed in settings that focus on high priority research questions
  • Engaging with funding agencies to deliver high priority research efficiently, and focusing on topics which are not currently addressed
  • Ensuring the programme delivers state-of-the art knowledge and practices
  • Recruiting trainees of the highest academic standard in disciplines of need.

According to Principal Investigator Professor Michael Dennedy:

“The first phase of ICAT introduced a fellow-focussed, clinical academic training programme within a mentored environment. It directly influenced the expansion of training opportunities for clinical fellows at pre-PhD, postdoctoral and intermediate career stages. ICAT 2 commits to matching excellence with excellence for postgraduate trainees across a broader remit of medicine, veterinary medicine and dentistry, providing them with the best opportunities to succeed as world-class clinical academics in a collaborative, cross-disciplinary, well-supported environment."

Cross-disciplinary, cross-institutional patient-focused research which translates into policy and practice lies at the heart of ICAT-2. We will continue to leverage the investment and opportunity presented by ICAT-2 to advocate for further training opportunities; to promote a respectful and inclusive research culture; to advance state-of-the-art biomedical science and health research, and to promote understanding of the shared future of human, animal and environmental health.”

ICAT director Professor Deirdre Murray:

“The ICAT programme has created a sea change in how clinical researchers are trained in Ireland, making use of the abundance of high quality research supervisors across our universities. This continued support from the HRB will expand the programme and support fellows to gain cutting edge research skills both in Ireland and abroad.  The medical breakthroughs of the future will be made by these trainees.”


Visit the ICAT Website

Notes to editors:

* ICAT 2 will support 25 HRB-funded students plus a number of additional, alternatively funded scholars over its next eight years of funding (2022-2030) and will be delivered by six universities (National University of Ireland, Galway, RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences, Trinity College Dublin, University College Cork, University College Dublin, and Queens University, Belfast) and the clinical training authorities across the whole of the island of Ireland.  

**For the first time, ICAT will invite applications from people in dentistry and veterinary medicine.

Lead Applicant and Principal Investigator:

Professor Michael Dennedy, School of Medicine, National University of Ireland Galway

Co-Leadership Team:

Professor Deirdre Murray, University College Cork; Professor David Williams, RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences; Professor Bernadette McGuinness, Queen's University Belfast; Professor Martina Hennessy, Trinity College Dublin; Dr Cormac McCarthy, University College Dublin; Professor Aoife Lowery,  National University of Ireland Galway; Professor Padraic Fallon, Trinity College Dublin; Professor Patrick Mallon, University College Dublin; Dr Richard Turkington, Queen's University Belfast; Professor Michael O'Reilly, RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences; Dr Áine Merwick, Cork University Hospital;  Professor Carmel Mooney, University College Dublin; Professor Siobhan Glavey, RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences; Professor Garry Duffy, National University of Ireland Galway; Professor Helen Heneghan, University College Dublin; Dr Rícheal Ní Riordáin, University College Cork; Professor Michael Gill, Trinity College Dublin; Professor Peter Maxwell, Queen's University Belfast; Professor Brian O’Connell, Trinity College Dublin; Dr Gerry McKenna, Queen's University Belfast