As 2018 draws to a close, I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone in the wider CRDI Network for your much-valued support and collaboration throughout the year.
2018 was an important year for the CRDI network, during which considerable progress was made towards our strategic mission to advance patient care and health service delivery by supporting the development of clinical and translational research across our partner academic institutions, their medical schools and associated hospitals. This progress has been achieved through the strong performance of existing programmes and projects, some of which were renewed during the year, and the successful award of new ones. The following takes a look back over this eventful year .
A key highlight of the year and an important strategic objective, was the expansion of the partnership to include the University of Limerick (UL). This was marked with a Board gathering on 18 June hosted by Professor Des Fitzgerald, President of the University of Limerick, and attended by representatives of all six members.
UL’s accession to CRDI has strengthened the partnership, positioning it as a collaboration of all the Irish medical schools, their parent institutions and clinical research facilities, thus collectively enhancing the capabilities of the clinical research sector to make the breakthrough advances we all wish for to better serve patient needs.
During 2018, CRDI succeeded in building new alliances as well as strengthening existing ones. This was particularly evident in a new initiative introduced in the first quarter of the year entitled the Future Resourcing of Clinical Research (FRCR), which is working to enhance the level of clinical research in Ireland through increased investment in infrastructure, support, capacity and capability.
The FRCR initiative has involved consultation with up to 60 key stakeholders in clinical research, including patients, the Health Service Executive, Health Research Board, Enterprise Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland, IDA Ireland, Cancer Trials Ireland, Biopharmachemical Ireland, the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association, MedTech Ireland and IMSTA, along with the partner academic institutions and the Clinical Research Facilities/Centres (CRF/Cs). The accumulated expert opinions of all stakeholders will feed into a significant report on the future resourcing requirements and a road-map will be drafted on how best to achieve this.
In an effort to develop capacity and capability across the clinical research network, CRDI together with its partner CRF/Cs has been a strong advocate for Irish representation in the European Clinical Research Infrastructure Network European Research Clinical Infrastructure (ECRIN ERIC). I am pleased that Ministerial and Cabinet approval was granted in October and Ireland is now a full member of ECRIN, with the designation of the HRB Clinical Research Coordination Ireland (HRB CRCI) as the Irish Scientific Partner. Funding for the role of the ECRIN European Correspondent (EUCO) is available as part of this new membership and the appointee will sit in CRDI.
As a result of the very significant advances in genomics research made in recent years, CRDI has been co-ordinating a series of engagements with colleagues from across the partnership, and other external experts and interested parties to help resolve some of the complexities experienced by the institutional partners in this growing area of research, in part through the development of guidance for interactions with commercial third parties.
Building on the success of the Irish Clinical Academic Training (ICAT) Programme and previous structured PhD programmes co-ordinated by CRDI, CRDI is a core partner in Neonatal Brain Consortium Ireland which succeeded earlier this year in its application to the HRB Collaborative Doctoral Awards for the collaborative Neonatal Encephalopathy PhD Training Network (HRB NEPTuNE). Launched in September, this programme aims to produce a cohort of experts who will advance patient-focused research in neonatal encephalopathy. CRDI co-ordinates the NEPTuNE programme, providing resources and the framework for training.
Finally, I would like to wish all readers and your families all the best for the festive season and a happy and peaceful New Year, and I look forward to your continued support in 2019.