Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

Three RCSI researchers awarded funding from the Health Research Board and Medical Research Charities Group

07 November 2018

Three researchers from RCSI have been awarded funding through the Health Research Board (HRB) and Medical Research Charities Group (MRCG) Joint Funding Scheme. The three RCSI projects were among 14 studies that were funded by the €3.2m scheme.

With this funding, RCSI researchers will study diabetic foot infections, autoimmune epilepsy and Alpha-1, a genetic condition that causes severe emphysema.

Dr Deirdre Fitzgerald-Hughes, RCSI Department of Microbiology, will develop and evaluate specialised treatments for diabetic foot wounds in partnership with Diabetes Ireland. One in five patients with diabetes are hospitalised with a diabetic foot wound (DFW) at least once in their lives. Antibiotic treatment often fails to treat these infections due to underlying complications of diabetes such as poor blood flow to the foot and a weakened immune system. The project is jointly funded by Diabetes Ireland.

Dr Emer Reeves, RCSI Department of Medicine, will study a specific treatment for Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (Alpha-1), which results in the most severe form of hereditary emphysema. The research, jointly funded by the Alpha-1 Foundation, could lead to enhanced treatments that would reduce inflammation in Alpha-1 lung disease patients.

Professor Gianpiero Cavalleri, RCSI Department of Molecular & Cellular Therapeutics and FutureNeuro, will try to determine if certain bacteria present in the gut (the microbiome) might be providing the environmental trigger that, alongside specific genes, causes autoimmune epilepsy. Autoimmune epilepsy is a rare form of drug-resistant epilepsy characterised by frequent seizures in later life. Professor Cavalleri's project is co-funded by Epilepsy Ireland.

Commenting on the awards, Dr Darrin Morrissey, Chief Executive at the HRB said: "There some very impressive ideas among these new research awards. The ingenuity of the research, as well as the impact that it will have on people's lives demonstrates why it is so important to build a health research culture at the heart of our health services."

Dr Avril Kennan, Chief Executive of the Medical Research Charities Group noted: "This programme provides a particular opportunity for medical research charities to support research that is in response to what patients actually need. With matched funding from the HRB, charities can in effect double their research budgets."

Dr Caitriona Creely, Programme Manager, from the HRB added: "The MRCG/HRB Joint Funding Scheme is an opportunity for HRB to work with charities and support excellent research of relevance to patients, from understanding the cause of diseases, to looking for a cure, to focusing on care for people and families living with conditions day to day.'

The scheme runs approximately every two years. The next round of applications is expected to open in September 2019. The MRCG/HRB Joint Funding Scheme details are available on the HRB website.