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

Joint US/Ireland Workshop Discusses New Developments in Cystic Fibrosis -One of Ireland’s Most Common Hereditary Diseases.

23 June 2006

A joint U.S-Ireland Workshop on Inflammation and Infection in Cystic Fibrosis (CF) took place today at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), Dublin.

This one-day conference was held under the auspices of the U.S-Ireland R&D Partnership and was officially opened by H.E. James C. Kenny, U.S. Ambassador to Ireland. Established in 2005, the R&D Partnership is a collaborative research initiative by Ireland, Northern Ireland, and the United States that focuses on cystic fibrosis, diabetes, influenza, nanotechnology, and sensor technology.


Pictured L to R: Professor Gerry McElvaney, Professor of Medicine RCSI and Chair of the joint U.S-Ireland Workshop on Inflammation and Infection in Cystic Fibrosis (CF) and H.E. James C. Kenny, U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, who officially opened the conference at the RCSI.


Delegates attending the CF conference included (L to R) : Professor Richard Boucher, University of North Carolina.; Professor Gerry McElvaney, Professor of Medicine RCSI, and Chair of the meeting; Dr. Terry McWade, Deputy CEO RCSI; H.E. James C. Kenny, U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, who officially opened the conference; and Mr. Stuart Elborn, Adult Cystic Fibrosis Centre, City Hospital, Belfast.

CF (also called mucoviscidosis) is Ireland's most common life-threatening inherited disease and with over 1,100 CF sufferers, Ireland has the highest proportion of CF patients in the world. Approximately 35 new cases of CF are diagnosed here every year.

Primarily affecting the lungs and the digestive system CF also affects the pancreas and reproductive system causing the production of a thick sticky mucus, which blocks the lungs and prevents the body’s natural enzymes from digesting food. Approximately 1 in 20 people are carriers of the CF gene and where two carriers parent a child, there is a 1 in 4 chance of the baby being born with CF.

Sponsored by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), the North American Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, InterTradeIreland, Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), the Health Research Board (HRB), and the Research and Development Office, Northern Ireland, this meeting sought to stimulate collaboration and identify opportunities for joint U.S.-Ireland research through scientific exchanges on the causes and new therapies for lung disease in CF.

This is just one of the few occasions which the NIH has sponsored a conference outside the US which featured a number of the world’s leading CF experts.

A massive 90 per cent of all CF associated deaths worldwide are due to lung disease and the best average survival rate for patients is just 35 years. This workshop focused on lung disease in CF patients and sought to answer some of the most difficult questions surrounding the condition. These included whether inflammation precedes infection in the CF lung, the role of neonatal screening and diagnosis and new therapies for the disease.

The workshop was chaired by Professor Gerry McElvaney, Professor of Medicine at RCSI.

According to Professor McElvaney "this workshop is of vital importance as it will define the practical steps needed to improve our understanding of lung disease in cystic fibrosis and identify where research should be focused. It will influence cystic fibrosis research not just here in Ireland but worldwide and ultimately lead to changes in how this research is carried out. It will also help to encourage and facilitate increased international collaboration. These are exciting times in cystic fibrosis research and the translational proposals emanating from this meeting will seek to deliver clear and practical clinical benefit for CF patients. This event will inevitably lead to new approaches, new therapies and new hope for individuals with cystic fibrosis."