According to The Research Impact Anthology: Research for a Healthier Future report, published today, University College Cork’s College of Medicine and Health generated a staggering €28.5 million in research income in 2017 and a total €100 million in research income over the last decade.
Recent research innovations include the development of the field of ‘psychobiotics’ (the study of how certain bacteria can benefit the brain), uses of ‘electrochemotherapy’ in cancer treatment and nanotechnology in gene therapy, in addition to the development of ‘smart antibiotics’ to combat antimicrobial resistance.
Professor Helen Whelton, head of the UCC College of Medicine and Health, has called on the Government to ensure that Ireland’s health and medical research ecosystem continues to be as open and attractive as possible to foreign investment in the face of Brexit.
Professor Whelton continued: “Ireland is globally renowned as a medical research and pharmaceutical hub. The UCC College of Medicine and Health in particular has been a massive contributor to the growth of Ireland’s prestige in these areas, particularly through research centres like APC Microbiome. We are having a direct impact on the quality of life of patients in Ireland and abroad, and creating revenue for the Irish economy in the process.
“We can do more. Brexit, while a challenge, presents new opportunities for Ireland’s medical and health research community. Many life sciences companies and researchers are likely to choose to relocate to Ireland, which will soon be the only English-speaking EU member state.
“To incentivise this migration, Ireland must put in place structures and systems responsive to medical and healthcare research needs. This can be achieved, in part, by developing a more robust national clinical trial framework”.
Professor Whelton claimed that UCC should be fast-tracked to include a greater number of conditions and disease research areas, highlighting the fact that an expanded national clinical trial scheme in Ireland could be a revenue earner for the Irish health service.
“In the UK, where such a system exists, patients voluntarily referred onto trials actually generate more than €7,500 each via payments from life science companies to the NHS. Furthermore, by facilitating large-scale public trials of treatments and drugs, the HSE would also be in a better position to negotiate drug price reductions from pharmaceutical companies involved in the trials, thereby reducing the costs of its medicines budget”, she concluded.