O’Neill welcomes largest ever investment in academic medicine

Date published: 13 September 2016


Health Minister Michelle O’Neill today welcomed the largest ever investment in academic medicine through an all island collaborative partnership.


The combined funding, approximately £10million over the next five years, is from Wellcome Trust, participating universities, the Public Health Agency’s Research and Development Division (HSC R&D) and Ireland’s Health Research Board.

The programme application, fully supported by HSC R&D and Belfast HSC Trust and the Medical and Dental Training Agency, represents a total investment from HSC R&D Division of up to £1million. 

The funding will provide integrated clinical and research training for a total intake of eight students per year across Ireland for a five-year period. Applications open in autumn 2016 for intake in July 2017.

The Minister said: “All-island collaboration on this scale will make a meaningful and tangible difference for health care throughout Ireland. This programme has been successful in working across boundaries, organisations and government to achieve an outcome that will benefit students and patients.”

Michelle O’Neill congratulated Professor Peter Maxwell, Queen’s University Belfast, who is the Director of the Clinical Academic Training Programme in the north, and said:  “Professor Maxwell has played a key role in securing this investment in clinical academic training for the whole island. This initiative demonstrates what can be achieved through working together across the island of Ireland.

“We face the same health issues, challenges and opportunities across Ireland and I want see further development of all-island networks to tap into the benefits that collaboration can potentially deliver.”

Professor Peter Maxwell from Queen’s University Belfast and Director of the Clinical Academic Training programme in Northern Ireland said: “I am delighted Queen’s is part of this successful team of researchers which will receive the largest ever investment in academic medicine here, amounting to £10million over the next five years.

“With this significant investment we can create an integrated all-Ireland clinical academic training programme, that will support and mentor trainee doctors to become skilled scientific investigators and leaders of future research teams, which can tackle important health problems such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and mental illness. This is a long term investment in training people who will make a difference to the health of people throughout Ireland and further afield.”

Professor Ian Young, Director of HSC R&D and Chief Scientific Advisor, DoH said: “The opportunity to participate in clinical research benefits all patients and this award recognises our strong training environment which provides for the next generation of research leaders. We particularly welcome the opportunities that will follow to promote research networking on the island of Ireland.”

Professor Peter Maxwell, Director of the Clinical Academic Training Programme in the north, was the lead applicant for Queen’s University Belfast (Queen’s) in the bid for funding. Queen’s is one of the six equal partners in the successful consortium (six medical schools combining resources – TCD, Queen’s, UCD, RSCI, UCC, NUIG)

The Irish team is led by Professor Michael Gill (TCD), Professor Peter Maxwell (Queen’s), Professor Paddy Mallon (UCD), Professor Michael Dennedy (NUI), Professor Joe Eustace (UCC), Professor Ray Stallings (RCSI) and Mr Mark Watson in Molecular Medicine Ireland and was one of only eight successful applications from across Britain and Ireland, a highly significant development for academic medicine.

Notes to editors: 

  1. Wellcome exists to improve health for everyone by helping great ideas to thrive. We’re a global charitable foundation, both politically and financially independent. We support scientists and researchers, take on big problems, fuel imaginations and spark debate.
  2. 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 www.hrb.ie
  3. Media enquiries about this press release to DoH Press Office on 028 9052 0074, or out of hours contact to Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned. Follow us on twitter @healthdpt
  4. The Health and Social Care Research & Development Division (HSC R&D Division) of the Public Health Agency works to support research that provides high quality evidence to improve care for patients, clients and the general population and adds to our understanding of health, disease, treatment and care. The work of HSC R&D is based on the principle that the best health and social care must be underpinned by knowledge, based on well conducted research, which can then be applied in the delivery of care.

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