The opening of a new £4M research hub known as The Wellcome Trust-Wolfson Foundation Northern Ireland Clinical Research Facility (NICRF), based at Belfast City Hospital will enable more patients than ever before to take part in clinical trials in Northern Ireland and will concentrate on four main research themes; cancer, nutrition and metabolism, vision science and respiratory research. The facility will also benefit those with rare conditions, who, until now, have had to travel to England to participate in trials.
This is a joint venture between Queen’s University Belfast, The Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, The University of Ulster and Health and Social Care Research and Development (HSC R&D), a division of the Public Health Agency (PHA).
Based in Belfast City Hospital, the NICRF has the infrastructure to support clinical trials from conception to completion. With dedicated staff, the NICRF allows researchers to access a specialised area for clinical research, including equipment not available in the NHS. It contains ten clinical rooms, a blood processing facility and a diet kitchen for nutrition studies. Researchers hope that hundreds of patients will be offered the chance to take part in clinical trials each year, leading to a major increase in numbers previously enrolled in research studies in Northern Ireland.
Health Research Infrastructure and Clinical Trials
Speaking at the launch, Health Minister, Edwin Poots MLA, said: “This new state-of-the-art facility is an important element of Northern Ireland’s health research infrastructure and will enhance our ability to produce valuable, useable results. “Across the Northern Ireland Health and Social Care Trusts, we have invested significantly, especially in the past five years, so that our professional staff can undertake research directly relevant to their patients and practice and can use the knowledge gained from that research.
“Research, development and innovation are essential for modern healthcare systems so we can advance the quality of our services, whether in disease prevention, diagnosis or treatment. Research also provides vital knowledge that can improve the cost–effectiveness and value for money of our health services.”
Chief Executive Colm Donaghy added: “Having this facility in Belfast City Hospital means we will see more patients enrolling in clinical trials. They will learn more about their diseases and as a result help to define how we go about treating them. The NICRF also provides new opportunities for the doctors, nurses and other health professionals, including physiotherapists and nutritionists, within Belfast Trust, to take part in training programmes, all of which will enhance their skills and further enhance our patients’ treatments and outcomes.”
Researchers who would like to use the NICRF or members of the public who would like to participate in research can contact (028) 9504 0342. Further information is also available online at http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/TheWellcomeTrust-WolfsonNorthernIrelandClinicalResearchFacility/.
- Link to related local BBC News item – 18-SEP-2013