Expanding Ireland’s involvement in clinical trials

More Irish people will have access to multi-centre clinical trials as a result of HRB Clinical Research Coordination Ireland (HRB -CRCI) which is officially launched today. The hub will be central to building Ireland’s reputation as a preferred location to conduct clinical trials.

Officially launching the HRB CRCI today, Minister of State for Health Promotion, Marcella Corcoran Kennedy said,

‘The Government has invested more than €100 million in clinical research infrastructure through the Health Research Board. The HRB CRCI has a crucial role in enabling that infrastructure to grow, develop and deliver real benefits for people’s health, patient care as well as the life sciences industry in Ireland’.

HRB CRCI will deliver widespread benefit; helping patients understand more about clinical research and participating in trials, assisting health professionals to get involved in clinical research, helping the life sciences industry deliver high quality clinical research in Ireland and guiding academics to develop research proposals which involves patients.

Since its inception last year, the HRB CRCI has already been delivering some impressive results

  • Clinical trial feasibility is a process through which a sponsor identifies sites and evaluates if they are suitable to conduct the clinical trial. HRB CRCI processed 72 Clinical trial feasibility requests.  
  • To date there has been 137 expressions of interest from Irish sites to participate in clinical trials, enabling Irish sites to be considered for study participation. 
  • HRB CRCI collates responses from all sites and provides a single national response to the trial sponsor. 
  • There has been  active promotion of  the HRB CRCI service to more than 53 companies and engagement with 25 clinical research networks. 
  • The HRB CRCI has provided Clinical Industry Liaison support for 240 companies or projects from product concept to commercialisation.

Professor Joe Eustace, Chair of the senior management team of HRB CRCI said,

‘Our long term goal is to systematically address the barriers that limit the ability of Irish patients to access multicentre clinical trials and to ensure that Ireland is recognised internationally as a preferred location for such trials.

Together we will underpin the set-up and conduct of both academic and commercially sponsored clinical trials for the benefit of Irish patients. We will ensure that all such research is undertaken to the highest possible uniform standard’.

For the past decade, the HRB has been pursuing a very deliberate and strategic approach to develop Ireland’s clinical research infrastructure to ensure new research discoveries lead to improvements in peoples’ health, patient care and health service delivery.

According to Dr Graham Love, Chief Executive at the Health Research Board,

‘International evidence shows that patients in healthcare settings which carry out clinical trials do better than patients in healthcare settings that don’t. That is why the HRB has been systematically developing Irish clinical trial infrastructure.

I am happy to say that with the launch of HRB CRCI we have reached the next step in the evolution of our clinical trials ecosystem. It will help ensure multi-centre clinical trials can be done more efficiently in Irish clinical research facilities by health professionals and companies'.

The need for HRB CRCI

More and more clinical trials need participation from more than one site to ensure that enough participants can be recruited, and to show that the effect of a trial (or lack of an effect) is not localised in a particular region or country, but in general. In the past, this could sometimes prove to be tricky. HRB CRCI, building on the expertise available in the CRFs/CRCs and elsewhere, is addressing this bottleneck. HRB CRCI is also providing the link to ‘Ireland’ as a partner in multinational trials, bringing new opportunities to Irish patients.

According to Fionnuala Keane, Chief Operating Officer, HRB CRCI,

‘The HRB CRCI is designed to overcome these challenges in Ireland’s involvement in clinical trials by increasing our capacity to successfully deliver multicentre trials led by Irish and/or international investigators. The concept builds on the strengths of the existing  Clinical Research Facilities and Centres, offering a single point of contact and integrated services for academia, the health system and industry’.

Deirdre Glenn, Director Lifesciences and Food, Enterprise Ireland said,

‘As co-funder of the HRB-CRCI, Enterprise Ireland recognises the need to bolster the Clinical Trial infrastructure in Ireland to benefit both indigenous and multi-national companies. The HRB-CRCI will establish quality standards and practices enabling companies to undertake trials in Ireland leading to new product development. Enterprise Ireland is delighted to support the initiative, which will ultimately improve the efficiency of bringing new technologies, products and services to market down the line, benefitting society as a whole and confirming Ireland’s status as a global leader in healthcare solutions'.


For more information contact:
Gillian Markey, Communications Manager, Health Research Board
m 087 2288514

Notes to editors

The Health Research Board (HRB) is the lead agency in Ireland responsible for supporting and funding health research, information and evidence. We are motivated and inspired by our vision; Healthy people through excellent research and applied knowledge HRB CRCI – part of the HRB Clinical research infrastructure.
Health Research Board Clinical Research Coordination Ireland (HRB CRCI) is an independent integrated national clinical research network, providing centralised support in the conduct of multicentre clinical trials (both commercial and academic) across Ireland.

What does the HRB Clinical Research Infrastructure entail?

  • Three HRB Clinical Research Facilities on hospitals grounds in Dublin, Galway and Cork where, to date, more than 10,000 people are participating in clinical trials. These facilities provide the physical space, facilities, expertise and culture needed to support patient-focused research studies and clinical studies aimed at understanding a range of diseases and translating the knowledge obtained through this research work into regulatory approved advances in patient care as fast as possible.
  • The Wellcome-HRB CRF in Dublin also houses the HRB Centre for Advanced Medical Imaging (CAMI). This is the only 3 Tesla MRI scanner dedicated to research in Ireland and plays a crucial role in a wide range of studies from breast cancer to dementia.
  • Five HRB Clinical Trial Networks in the specialties of Primary Care, Stroke, Cancer, Mother & Baby and Critical Care which will show whether specific interventions work, or indeed don’t work.  
  • HRB Trials Methodology Research Network (HRB TMRN) which will strengthen the approach taken to trials and the way they are reported in health and social care so they are relevant, accessible and influential for patients, other service users, practitioners, policy makers and the public and finally 
  • HRB Clinical Research Coordination Ireland (HRB-CRCI).

Enterprise Ireland

Enterprise Ireland is the Irish Government agency that works with Irish enterprises to help them start, grow, innovate and win export sales in global markets. Enterprise Ireland partners with entrepreneurs, Irish businesses, and the research and investment communities to develop Ireland’s international trade, innovation, leadership and competitiveness.  In this way, we support sustainable economic growth and regional development, and help create and sustain employment in Ireland.