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People with diabetes and patients with chronic disease and those who use primary care are set to benefit from the expansion of clinical trials at NUI Galway. The Health Research Board has announced that the Primary Care Clinical Trials Network and the Diabetes Collaborative Clinical Trial Network are to be supported at the University.
The NUI Galway networks are two of six projects that have been selected nationwide following a rigorous application process and adjudication by an international panel of experts. 

Prof Fidelma Dunne, Consultant Endocrinologist in University Hospital Galway and Saolta Hospital Group and Professor in the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at NUI Galway, is to lead the Diabetes Collaborative Clinical Trial Network, which will work on an all-island basis.

“This investment is hugely significant for patients. Diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases in Ireland and the number of people affected by it is increasing at an alarming rate alongside the increase in obesity rates,” Prof Dunne said.

“The aim of all the co-applicants and collaborators who have worked on this project is to ensure that people with diabetes across the island of Ireland have access to high-quality clinical trials, regardless of where they live. Through trials in new medicines and technologies, we can improve health and reduce disease burden for patients with diabetes.”

Prof Dunne outlined some initial areas of focus for the Diabetes Collaborative Clinical Trial Network, including diabetes in pregnancy, technologies, foot disease, advanced therapies and behavioural change. Prof Andrew Murphy, GP in Turloughmore Medical Centre, Co Galway, and Professor of General Practice at NUI Galway, is to lead the Primary Care Clinical Trials Network.

“Our aim is simply to produce high-quality clinical evidence which improves patient outcomes in primary care, where the vast bulk of healthcare is provided,” Prof Murphy said.

“Our high-level strategy prioritises the conduct of trials in chronic disease management, multi-morbidity, where patients have two or more diseases, and infectious diseases. Over the past five years, we have recruited almost 4,000 patients and had 20 registered trials, working with the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, the Irish College of General Practitioners and other universities in Ireland and Europe. Our aim is to bring trials to hundreds more patients.”

Prof Murphy set out a number of objectives, including bringing together patients, carers, health professionals and researchers to develop the top 10 research priorities in chronic disease management, enhancement of Public and Patient Involvement (PPI) in primary care research, and developing a list of what trials in this area should measure so that their outcomes are comparable.

The Clinical Trial Networks were assessed on criteria that included each network’s relevance to Ireland’s health and social care needs; the strength of its collaborative framework; the quality of the proposed network and trial activities; and the expertise and skill mix of its team. The HRB said the new investment will see the expansion of clinical trials and create opportunities for Irish people to participate in the latest research in these areas to improve outcomes and/or transform treatments and care.