Clinical Research Networks

HRB CRCI works with and supports a number of clinical research networks. Clinical research networks are groups of clinicians and scientists from across Ireland who have come together around a particular disease, or clinical interest. Investigators agree on research activities that are best conducted as a large group nationally rather than in isolation.

A number of clinical research networks have been established and are listed below by research area. Some receive state funding while others are funded mainly through charitable funds.  The Health Research Board recently funded the establishment of four new Clinical Trial Networks in stroke, critical care, perinatal care and primary care.

The clinical research network page is live and updated on an ongoing basis. If you are a lead of a clinical research network and would like it included on the HRB CRCI website please contact info@hrb-crci.ie

Further information on the different networks are provided below by research area.

    Cancer Trials Ireland 

    Established in 1996, Cancer Trials Ireland, formally the All-Ireland Cooperative Oncology Research Group (ICORG), enables patients in Ireland to gain early access to novel cancer treatments and therapies. Cancer Trials Ireland operate cancer clinical trials across a number of disease areas – Breast, Gastrointestinal, Genitourinary, Gynaecology, Haematology/Lymphoma, Lung, etc. They work closely with international collaborative groups such as ECOG, NSABP, ANZUP and also have developed strong links with our pharmaceutical partners.

    For general enquiries phone: +353-1-6677211 or email: info@icorg.ie
    For study feasibilities enquiries email: study_feasibilities@icorg.ie
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    BCNI: Blood Cancer Network Ireland

    BCNI is a new national clinical research network that will benefit blood cancer patients in Ireland. BCNI will offer early stage clinical trials to blood cancer patients, offering the opportunity to test new, potentially life-saving treatments and drugs. BCNI will also see the establishment of a biobank and blood cancer registry, which will further our knowledge and expertise in the field of blood cancer research and ultimately improve patient outcomes. BCNI is funded by the Irish Cancer Society and Science Foundation Ireland.

    BCNI is a collaborative network of clinicians, scientists, and population health experts with a shared interest in blood cancer research. Members of the national network are based at the NUI Galway/ University Hospital Galway, University College Cork/ Cork University Hospital, Trinity College Dublin/St James Hospital and the National Cancer Registry Ireland. Planned expansion will include the Mater and Beaumont hospitals in the near future. The key investigators involved are Prof. Michael O’Dwyer, Prof. Mary Cahill, Prof. Paul Browne, Dr Eva Szegezdi and Dr Harry Comber

    The aim of BCNI is to provide Irish blood cancer patients with access to novel and innovative cancer treatments through the provision of early phase clinical trials. BCNI will also collect information and samples from blood cancer patients in Ireland in order to improve our understanding and to uncover new ways to combat this disease.

    For general enquiries phone: +353-91-495890 or email BCNI@nuigalway.ie

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    HRB Stroke Clinical Trial Network Ireland

    Stroke is the second leading cause of death in the world, the leading cause of new disability, and a major cause of dementia and health costs.

    The HRB Stroke Clinical Trial Network Ireland is led by Professor Peter J Kelly, Mater University Hospital and University College Dublin. The Network will initially involve eight Irish hospitals, six leading universities, and all seven Hospital Groups, including colleagues from UCD, RCSI, Trinity College, UCC, NUI Galway, and University of Limerick. It will have strong links with international researchers in the UK, Europe, and North America. In addition to the HRB, other Network partners are the Irish Heart Foundation, who will fund new Stroke Research Nurses, and seven industry partners, who will fund education and training activities.

    In the Network, Irish researchers in hospitals will:

    • Join several new international trials of new treatments for emergency care, prevention, and recovery after stroke.
    • Lead a new clinical trial aiming to prevent second strokes and heart attack after first stroke.
    • Train new doctors, nurses, and therapists in how to perform safe high-quality clinical trials, and will work with patient groups and the private sector to bring new treatments to patients with stroke.

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    HRB Critical Care Clinical Trials Network Ireland

    The HRB Critical Care Clinical Trials Network Ireland (HRB CCTNI) is led by Professor Alistair Nichol, St Vincent’s University Hospital and UCD

    Thousands of critically ill patients pass through our intensive care units (ICU) each year. Sadly the nature of their conditions can often result in death, or mean they survive with a long term disability. The HRB CCTNI will bring together doctors, nurses and researchers to test new treatments that can improve outcomes for these patients.

    The network will offer ICU patients the highest quality care, give them access to the latest innovations in intensive care and ensure future patients benefit from the lessons learned in national and international research. The group includes the academic leadership in our speciality and encompasses more than 75% of all the ICU capacity in Ireland.

    Initial work to be addressed by the IC-CTG:

    • PHARLAP- will establish whether the way we ‘set’ the breathing machine helps reduce further lung damage in patients with a severe lung disease (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome  or ‘ARDS’). A small research study by some of the group members showed that reducing the size of each breath in conjunction with an occasional sustained deep breath through the ventilator appeared to reduce further damage to the lungs. But the study size was too small to make definitive conclusions. So a larger study, which this HRB network now makes possible, will assess whether patients with ARDS are better off on this PHARLAP breathing strategy.
    • TRANSFUSE- Does giving ‘fresher’ blood versus ‘older blood’ in transfusions make a difference to patients who are admitted to ICU. This study will result in a worldwide practice change if it finds freshest available blood use is best for ICU patients, but if there is no difference this will provide great confidence to blood banks that current practice is optimal.
    • The network will also carry out test studies to determine which of the common treatments used to help reduce bleeding from the stomach when people are very unwell is best.
    • The network will also provide extra training for junior doctors and nurses in Ireland, so they can be future world leaders in research within the Irish health system.

    ATLANTIC DiP (Diabetes In Pregnancy)

    The ATLANTIC DiP research programme has focused on examining the outcomes of pregnancy for women with Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes and the factors influencing these outcomes. The mission of ATLANTIC DIP is to improve the outcomes of pregnancy for women with Diabetes by promoting evidence based best practice before, during and after pregnancy.

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    Galway Diabetes Research Centre (GDRC)

    GDRC is a joint venture between NUI Galway and Galway and Roscommon University Hospital Group, which bring together an interdisciplinary research consortium of active researchers and clinicians who have a track record in the field of diabetes. The centre is a hub for collaborative effort of researchers and clinicians, with a passion for this work, to provide a greater understanding of how diabetes develops and the underlying mechanisms, the development of new and better therapies for patients, and assessing health care interventions and delivery for patients.

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    Investigator Network for Inflammatory Bowel Disease Therapy in Ireland (INITIative)

    INITIative is the first collaborative research network for Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Ireland. The network is open to clinical and scientific investigators with an interest in Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis throughout the island of Ireland. Goals of the Network include:

    1. To foster collaboration and encourage multi-centre investigator initiated studies in Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis in Ireland
    2. To attract and facilitate industry sponsored clinical trials in Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis in Ireland in order to improve the access for patients in Ireland to investigational drugs and therapies
    3. To facilitate participation by Irish IBD investigators in European research consortia and networks
    4. To attract funding for and investment in research infrastructure to support research in Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis in Ireland
    5. To foster all Ireland, European and Global collaboration in IBD research and improve the profile of IBD related research taking place in Ireland

    Current INITIAtive projects include recruitment for the ECCO sponsored ICARE study which is the first observational European prospective cohort study that will provide unique information (safety, efficacy, risk- benefit ratio, and healthcare costs) on the long-term use of recommended therapy in IBD.

    For further information please contact:

    Glen Doherty MB BCh PhD FRCPI FEBGH
    Senior Clinical Lecturer, University College Dublin and Consultant Gastroenterologist and Physician, Centre for Colorectal Disease, St. Vincent’s University Hospital
    Email: g.doherty@st-vincents.ie

    Danielle Mervyn, INITIative Co-ordinator
    Centre for Colorectal Disease, St. Vincent’s University Hospital
    Email: d.mervyn@st-vincents.ie

    Irish Hepatitis C Outcomes Research Network (ICORN)

    Established in 2012, ICORN is a collaboration between clinical specialist groups, patient advocacy groups and healthcare service providers including the Irish Society of Gastroenterology (ISGE), the Infectious Diseases Society of Ireland (IDSI), and the National Centre for Pharmacoeconomics (NCPE).   Clinicians from the seven hospitals with centres of excellence in gastroenterology, hepatology or infectious disease caring for patients with Hepatitis C (HCV) infection are involved, they are: Beaumont Hospital, Dublin; Cork University Hospital, Cork; Galway University Hospital, Galway; Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, Dublin; St. Luke’s Hospital, Kilkenny; St. James’s Hospital, Dublin and St. Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin.

    The initial goal of this collaboration was to optimise the quality of care of patients with Hepatitis C (HCV) undergoing treatment with direct-acting antiviral therapy (DAAs). This prompted the design and implementation of treatment protocols for clinical sites and the establishment of the ICORN Treatment Registry, a prospective longitudinal treatment outcomes registry. The ICORN Treatment Registry facilitates clinical, basic science and translational medicine research for HCV infection.   Other network research themes developed since 2012 include innovative research projects on models of care and screening for HCV infection.

    ICORN affords the opportunity for collaborative, multi-centered, world-class research in patients with Hepatitis C in Ireland and is uniquely positioned as the leading platform for HCV clinical research in Ireland.

    For further information, please contact:
    Dolores Barry, ICORN Programme Manager
    Tel:  +353 1 896 4038
    Email:   doloresbarry@icorn.ie

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    Alzheimer’s Disease: 

    NILVAD: A clinical study for a new treatment in Alzheimer’s disease
    NILVAD is a European Commission Framework 7 funded programme. NILVAD is a phase III investigator led study investigating the safety and efficacy of Nilvadipine in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimers disease. The programme is led by Prof. Brian Lawlor, Trinity College Dublin. The NILVAD consortium consists of 17 participating institutions based in ten different EU member states and the USA.

    For general enquiries contact Fiona Cregg, Scientific Clinical Project Manager.
    Email: creggf@tcd.ie
    Phone: 00353 1 4162082

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    Motor Neurone Disease:

    Research Motor Neurone
    Research Motor Neurone (RMN) was founded in 2007, for the purpose of promoting and facilitating research into the causes and treatments of motor neurone disease (MND), also known as ALS. RMN also strives to increase awareness of this incurable disease at both a national and international level. Ongoing research is needed to discover the cause, treatment and methods of improving quality of life for MND sufferers and their families.

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    Neurology Research Group, St. Vincent’s University Hospital 

    The Neurology Research Group in St. Vincent’s University Hospital (SVUH) was established over 15 years ago. It has expertise and experience running numerous clinical pharmaceutical trials, academic research studies – both clinical and basic science, and interventional studies with allied health professionals. Several national neurology registries and research databases are also co-ordinated from the SVUH site.

    Their particular areas of excellence are neuroinflammatory disorders, in particular multiple sclerosis,  movement disorders and cognitive neurology. They have a dedicated clinical facility and can run clinical trials in all other areas of neurology. Their principal Investigators are recognised as international experts in their field of research and are experienced national principle investigators for many clinical trials.  In addition to four consultant neurologists, they have a dedicated research team consisting of neurology research registrars, clinical research nurse manager/ coordinator, 3 clinical research nurses and a research assistant.  As well as dedicated clinical facilities they have office space for external monitors, laboratory facilities on site for sample processing and access to neuroimaging, neurophysiology, neuropsychology, neuropsychiatry and neuro-ophthalmology services to name but a few. They have on-going collaborations with a number of basic neuroscience and bioengineering groups in Ireland and internationally.

    For further information please contact:
    Sinead Jordan, Neurology Research Nurse Manager
    Email: s.jordan@st-vincents.ie
    Phone: (01) 2213592

    HRB Mother & Baby Clinical Trials Network Ireland

    The HRB Mother & Baby Clinical Trials Network Ireland (HRB M&B CTNI) is a new, exciting and unique partnership between the two most successful perinatal research entities currently operational in Ireland, INFANT and Perinatal Ireland.

    This CTN represents a critical mass of obstetricians, neonatologists, midwives and allied professionals from seven of the largest maternity hospitals on the island of Ireland, which deliver over 55,000 babies per annum (almost three quarters of the total births on this island). Together, we have a strong track record in collaborative research and in the conduct of large-scale, international, multicentre, randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of diagnostics and interventions in pregnancy and neonates (e.g. PELICAN, IMPROvED, NEMO, TEST). In addition, we are acknowledged world leaders in longitudinal cohort studies such as ESPRiT, PORTO, GENESIS, SCOPE etc. and we have established and curate Ireland’s first birth cohort, BASELINE.

    Perinatal disease accounts for nearly 10% of the global burden of disease. However, R&D investment in perinatal health remains small and nonstrategic; the number of registered pipeline drugs for perinatal conditions is only 1-5% of those for other major disease areas. One barrier to the development of better therapies and diagnostics for mothers and babies is the intrinsic complexity of conducting trials in these uniquely vulnerable populations and conducting long-term follow up. The Mother & Baby CTNI, built on a robust platform of existing collaborations and more than a decade of experience in the conduct of research in the perinatal population, will reverse this pattern.

    The primary aim of the HRB M&B CTNI is to unite the combined experience of both the medical teams and resources in all centres.  This combination provides a world class research infrastructure which is at the forefront of translation research regarding the transition of fundamental research into the clinical environment. HRB M&B CTNI has a balanced and extensive portfolio of both ‘home-grown’ and international clinical trials of novel interventions and diagnostics in pregnancy and neonates. The HRB M&B CTNI will facilitate greater national collaboration in the arena of perinatal trials and will ensure that Ireland maintains our place at the international forefront of this area of clinical research.

    For all queries please contact:
    Dr Liz Tully, Network Manager.
    Email: perinatalctn@rcsi.ie or Telephone: 01-4022540

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    Irish Centre for Fetal and Neonatal Translational Research (INFANT)
    INFANT is focused on making pregnancy safer and improving health outcomes for mothers and babies on a global scale. The centre is based in Cork University Maternity Hospital and funded by Science Foundation Ireland. The centre is an international leader of discovery and innovation in perinatal healthcare, undertaking world-class collaborative research and partnering with a diverse array of national and international industries and academics.

    INFANT addresses unmet worldwide clinical needs for effective screening tests for the most common complications of pregnancy and the most significant problems for newborns. One in five pregnancies is complicated by pre-eclampsia, pre-term birth or fetal growth restriction. These conditions can progress to serious illnesses for both mum and baby if they are left undetected. For the baby, birth is a perilous journey. Some 5% of newborns experience asphyxia at birth, which can later develop into brain injury and seizures. The creation of next- generation devices to facilitate point-of-care and remote monitoring and diagnostics will transform antenatal and neonatal healthcare and service delivery on a global level, and position Ireland at the forefront. Access to world-first technologies allows INFANT’s industry partners to deliver innovative solutions to global markets, creating exciting economic opportunities and delivering sustainable high knowledge value jobs in Ireland. Research areas include:

    • Innovative cot-side monitoring• Perinatal clinical trials
    • Medical devices• Connected health
    • Maternal and infant nutrition• Monitoring platforms
    • Biomarkers for screening and diagnostics in pregnancy

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    Perinatal Ireland
    Perinatal Ireland is a multi-centre research consortium which focuses on improving both women and children’s health all over Ireland.  This improvement is achieved through the utilisation of advanced technologies including ultrasound which contributes to the enhanced detection and diagnosis levels in utero.  Perinatal Ireland focuses primarily on areas of clinical improvement in women and children’s health such as intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), discordant growth in twins, the prevention of stillbirth, prediction of preterm labour etc.

    Perinatal Ireland has a unique position resulting from the access to large patient populations which facilitates innovative and ground-breaking clinical and translational research. Each member site of the consortium is equipped with dedicated ultrasound imaging equipment and software, with access to specialised expertise such as biostatistical support and a robust quality system. Perinatal Ireland has a strong track record in the conduct of national prospective observational studies such as the national twin study (ESPRIT) and the national growth restriction study (PORTO) whereby the knowledge gained from this research has proven beneficial to mother and babies across the island in the publication of national clinical care guidelines.

    The consortium incorporates the main academic obstetric units across the island including  The Rotunda Hospital (Dublin),  The National Maternity Hospital (Holles St. Dublin),  The Coombe Women and Infant’s University Hospital (Dublin), Cork University Maternity Hospital, University Maternity Hospital Limerick, University Hospital Galway, Royal Jubilee Maternity Hospital (Belfast).

    For all queries please contact:
    Dr Liz Tully, Network Manager.
    Email: perinatalctn@rcsi.ie or Telephone: 01-4022540

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    HRB Primary Care Clinical Trial Network Ireland 

    Primary care accounts for 90% of all health care contacts, with more than 20 million individual consultations annually in Ireland. GPs and other health care professionals working in the community make decisions every day on how to best treat the patients they meet: these decisions should be based on conclusive evidence, drawn from primary care.

    The HRB Primary Care Clinical Trials Network Ireland  is a collaborative partnership that brings together key people in Ireland to run clinical trials in primary care. Working closely with the public, with patients and with GPs and other healthcare professionals, the Network aims to improve individual patient health and health care by conducting high quality, internationally recognised, randomised trials in Irish primary care, addressing important and common problems.

    Led by Professor Andrew Murphy, NUI Galway, the network includes a multidisciplinary team of colleagues from NUI Galway, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Queen’s University Belfast and the Irish College of General Practitioners. In the Network, Irish researchers will:

    • Lead new clinical trials in a number of areas, including a trial on the treatment of urinary tract infections and a second trial on potentially inappropriate prescribing in primary care
    • Explore the potential of using trials to help improve the safety climate in primary care
    • Develop a strong public and patient involvement in research and embed this approach at all steps in the research cycle
    • Conduct studies within trials (SWATS) to improve the recruitment in trials in primary care
    • Join international trials addressing important questions for patients in primary care
    • Build research capacity and expertise among primary care teams, enabling them to become a central tenet in the primary care research infrastructure, contributing to improved individual patient health and health care
    • Be a focal point of contact and of support for any research team or industrial sponsor who wants to conduct research in Irish primary care

    For further information, please email info@primarycaretrials.ie

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    HRB Centre for Primary Care Research

    The HRB Centre for Primary Care Research (HRB CPCR) has been funded as a national research centre since 2008. It is a collaborative research group, led by the Department of General Practice, RCSI with colleagues from General Practice in NUIG, TILDA and General Practice in TCD and the School of Pharmacy in Queen’s University Belfast. The emphasis on the second phase of funding is to develop and assess information and communication technology to improve the quality and safety of patient care. The following clinical areas are being covered: safe and effective prescribing; chronic disease management in diabetes; rational antibiotic use in the community and the value of a summary care record.

    For all queries please email: enquiries.cpcr@rcsi.ie

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    Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP)

    The research unit of the ICGP aims to develop and support research and audits in general practice in a structured and rigorous format. The overall aim of the research unit is to contribute to the knowledge base of general practice and to support evidence-based practice. The ICGP Research Ethics Committee, granted formal recognition on 17th May 2005, reviews both clinical and non-clinical trials. Developed as a collaboration between the ICGP, the HRB Centre for Primary Care Research (RCSI) and WestREN (NUIG), the Irish Primary Care Research Network (IPCRN) aims to establish a national network of Irish general practices whose purpose is to participate in audit and clinical research for the benefit of their patients and the Irish population.

    For all queries please email: sallyanne.o’neill@icgp.ie

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    VINE: The Vasculitis Irish Network

    VINE is a collaboration between five Irish centres, Vasculitis Ireland Awareness and the National Vasculitis Patient Organisation.  The network comprises of dedicated multi-disciplinary centres that provide a coordinated care path for patients with primary systemic small vessel vasculitis (PSV), from diagnosis to relapse and on to long term remission. It provides access to clinical trials for patients with PSV. The five centres maintain close ties and difficult cases are often discussed in a cross centre forum.

    To provide a foundation for developing the service in Ireland and to support translational vasculitis research, the VINE network has established the Irish RKD Registry and Biobank which seeks to enrol  900 patients in Ireland with PSV, providing a rich longitudinal clinical database, which is linked to one of the most complete PSV biobanks in the world based in Trinity College Dublin. Further details are provided below.

    The network is closely aligned with UKIVAS, the Vasculitis Rare Disease Group of the UK and Ireland and the European Vasculitis Society.

    For further information please contact:
    Prof Mark Little, Trinity Health Kidney Centre, Tallaght Hospital
    Email: mlittle@tcd.ie

    Rare Kidney Disease Registry and Biobank
    The RKD registry and Biobank was established in 2012 and aims to address an unmet need in the study of rare kidney disease in Ireland including facilitation of clinical studies when sporadic cases are scattered throughout many hospitals in Ireland. As the principal investigator is prominent in the Systemic Vasculitis research arena, this condition is particularly strongly represented; some 350 cases have been recruited and sampled longitudinally, making this one of the most extensive vasculitis biobanks in the world.

    The Registry is an integrated resource across AMNCH Hospital Tallaght, St James’s Hospital, Beaumont Hospital and Trinity College Dublin, with input from multiple other units across the country. It is funded by Science Foundation Ireland, Dublin Centre for Clinical Research, Trinity College MedDay and The Meath Foundation. Our goal in developing such a network is to link a robust patient registry (with capture of detailed longitudinal clinical data across multiple units) to collection of biological samples.

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    Respiratory and Asthma Research Network

    The INCA™ Studies are a suite of clinical investigations. The  focus of our research is in developing a novel technology which can be used in clinical practice as an objective assessment of patient adherence to inhaled therapy.

    For further information please contact:
    Elaine Mac Hale, Programme manager: Elainemachale@rcsi.ie
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    Arthritis Research Coalition

    A recent report assessing rheumatology research excellence, measured by the number of citations per article published between 1996 and 2010, ranked Ireland 1st of the 35 richest countries.   Major research outputs have included molecular studies on the pathogenesis of common rheumatic diseases, the discovery and validation of prognostic biomarkers, and clinical studies on novel therapies.   These have relied on the recruitment of highly characterized patients populations and by the development of linked biorepositories of blood and synovial tissue.

    Despite these successes the research activity has been reliant on a fragmented and poorly funded infrastructure.   The development of national rheumatology research networks in many European countries including Britain, Sweden and The Netherlands highlights their value. The establishment of Arthritis Ireland chairs, and the development of a Dublin Centre of Excellence, will form the foundation of national rheumatology research strategy, however, the development of a research nurse network will seek to engage all clinicians, co-ordinate all research activities and ensure that Ireland remains on top.

    The primary aim is recruit patients with common rheumatic diseases. and obtain biosamples that will underpin clinical research.  A secondary aim is to increase national involvement in clinical trials of novel therapeutic agents.

    The consortium lead is Prof Gerry Wilson. The leads by area are as follows:
    Rheumatoid Arthritis – Prof Doug Veale
    OA/Crystal arthritis – Prof Geraldine McCarthy
    Spondyloarthropathies – Dr Barry O’Shea
    Connective Tissue Diseases – Dr Grainne Murphy
    Paediatrics – Dr Orla Killeen
    Metabolic Bone- Dr John Carey

    For further information:
    Email: rheumatology@ucd.ie

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    TB Immunology Research, Institute of Molecular Medicine, TCD

    The host response to tuberculosis is the main focus of TB Immunology Research at the Institute of Molecular Medicine, Trinity college Dublin. The scientists work closely with the clinical and public health tuberculosis service based in St. James’s Hospital, which is on the same campus as the Institute of Molecular Medicine.  The scientists are addressing clinically relevant questions that seek to improve our understanding of the human host – TB pathogen interaction – to garner scientific advances that can inform better tests, treatments, vaccines for this global health emergency;  and make newer immunotherapieutics safer.

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