Health Minister announces major expansion at Altnagelvin's C-TRIC centre

Wed, 16/11/2011 - 17:01 -- Editor

The Clinical Translational Research & Innovation Centre (C-TRIC) on the Altnagelvin Hospital campus is making huge leaps within the realms of modern medicine with the announcement of major expansion.

The centre has announced that they will establish five new Translational Research Groups to be based at the hospital and welcomed the Health Minister Edwin Poots to the site today.

The new Translational Research Groups will focus on diabetes, inflammatory disease & rheumatology, neurodegenerative disease, oncology and cardiovascular disease & stroke medicine with a strategic focus applying personalized medicine in these areas. 

Minister Poots said: “With an increase in demand on our health service, we need to keep one step ahead by investing in research and development and innovations and technologies.  C-TRIC specialises in reducing both the time and cost in developing innovative health technologies, medical devices and treatments. 

“Not only does this benefit the patient as they can access better treatments more quickly, it also benefits the local economy.  It is well recognised that economic and health benefits will arise through collaboration between the business, academic and clinical stakeholders, particularly in areas of research and development.” 

Professor Tony Bjourson, Director of the Biomedical Sciences Research Institute and C-TRIC Board Member stated that: 

“Establishment of these Translational Research Groups at C-TRIC is a significant step forward.  Academic researchers, clinicians and patients have a unique opportunity to work together in the common endeavor of making sure that laboratory based research is converted into useful diagnostics and treatments to primarily help patients, but also to drive economic prosperity - that is only achieved if our discoveries are commercially developed into new diagnostics or drugs.  Biomedical Sciences achievements are already impressive – it obtained the highest possible ratings in every UK wide Research Assessment Exercises (RAEs) since 1996.  Our biomedical, nutritional and molecular biology research underpins and feeds our impressive pipeline of novel personalized medicine diagnostics and new drugs for treating degenerative diseases.  I really look forward to the appointment of a number of very high caliber research lecturers at C-TRIC and I am very grateful to ILEX for part-funding the first such appointment to the Translational Research Group.’ 

Professor Maurice O’Kane, (C-TRIC Chief Executive and Director of Research at the Western Trust) stated “Establishment of these Translational Research Groups signals C-TRIC’s desire to become a leading player with respect to Translational Medicine within the UK and Ireland. We will also host our 4th Annual Translational Medicine Conference in May next year which will focus on two keys areas of inflammatory processes and cardiovascular disease, showcasing the research emerging from US, Europe and our relevant Translational Research Groups.” 

Professor Hugh McKenna stated “It is pleasing to see how C-TRIC has evolved in recent years. This has strengthened collaborations between clinicians and researchers in the Western Health and Social Care Trust and the University of Ulster. I have no doubt that the creation of these new Clinical Research Groups will enhance further the quality of research activities and outputs and have the desired ripple effect on improving the quality and safety of patient care”.    

The Minister concluded; “I would like to congratulate C-TRIC on receiving a number of awards for their innovative economic development work and for helping companies who work with them to achieve the same.  I and my Department will do everything possible to support R&D within the current financial position.” 

C-TRIC was formed as a partnership between the University of Ulster, the Western Health & Social Care Trust (WHSCT) and Derry City Council (DCC).  The new Groups in C-TRIC are located at the Altnagelvin hospital, the second largest acute teaching hospital in Northern Ireland, which provides access to a large patient population from a diversity of disease areas. 

The new C-TRIC  Research Groups will focus on the translation of clinical research and development of innovative health technologies, medical devices and therapeutics enabling the streamlining of new discoveries through a focused ‘bench to point of care’ approach. This work of the new researchers will also create commercial opportunities to develop and exploit partnerships between academic researchers, clinical practitioners and industry.  The work of C-TRIC is important for attracting global pharmaceutical and diagnostic companies to the region and in the current economic downturn directly addresses the key UK Government, Invest Northern Ireland and Department of Trade & Investment (DETI policy of ensuring University research is translated and has maximum impact.