Expanding Ireland’s involvement in clinical trials

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. The hub will be central to building Ireland’s reputation as a preferred location to conduct clinical trials.

HRB CRCI was officially launched by Minister of State for Health Promotion, Marcella Corcoran Kennedy on the 29th Sept 2016. At a full house event in the Gibson hotel the Minister 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 is an independent integrated national clinical research network, providing centralised support in the conduct of multicentre clinical trials (both commercial and academic) across Ireland. It is funded by extramural grants from the Health Research Board (HRB) and Enterprise Ireland (EI), supported by the five largest Irish Universities and is hosted by Molecular Medicine Ireland (MMI).

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.

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

  • To date, HRB CRCI has processed 72 feasibility requests for Ireland’s participation in potential clinical research studies since becoming operational in May 2015.
  • There have been 137 expressions of interest from Irish sites to participate in clinical trials submitted via HRB CRCI to sponsor companies and contract research organisations, enabling Irish sites to be considered for study participation.
  • HRB CRCI has engaged with 234 Irish Investigators in the feasibility process to date.
  • There has been active promotion of the HRB CRCI services to more than 53 companies and engagement with 25 clinical research networks.
  • The HRB CRCI Clinical Industry Liaison Officer has provided support to 240 companies or projects from product concept to commercialisation

HRB CRCI’s 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 hospitals which carry out clinical trials do better than patients in hospitals 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.’

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.’

HRB CRCI is designed to overcome the 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.

Photos from the event

Key HRB CRCI year 1 metrics

Presentations from the event

Dr Jessie A Elliott, HRB Surgical Research Fellow, Wellcome Trust HRB SJH CRF
“How the gut talks to the brain – implications for obesity and malnutrition”

Mary Byrne, Clinical Research Manager, Cancer Clinical Trials Unit, HRB CRF Galway
“Role of CRFG in promotion of clinical research”

Dr Fionnuala Keane, Chief Operating Officer, HRB CRCI
“HRB CRCI overview and progress to date”

Dr Graham Love, Chief Executive, HRB
“Delivering a functional clinical research system”

Dr Lorraine Nolan, Chief Executive, HPRA
“HPRA: Supporting Clinical Research in Ireland”

Dr Matthew Hallsworth, Head of External Relations, NIHR Office for Clinical Research Infrastructure (NOCRI)
“Supporting efficient and effective clinical research in the UK”