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

Minister Harney Launches National Breast Cancer Clinical Research Programme

29 April 2010

Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney T.D. today launched a national clinical research programme on the treatment of breast cancer in association with Aviva and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI). This collaborative research initiative with the designated breast cancer centres in Galway, Cork, Limerick and Dublin will allow for the creation of Ireland’s first National Breast Cancer Bio Resource of tissue and serum samples.

Speaking at the launch, Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney T.D. said; ‘This collaborative research programme with breast cancer centres nationwide will ultimately shorten discovery times and enable the provision of more effective treatment for patients. It will also provide an increase in our understanding of this disease.

Pictured from (L-R) are Dr Ann Merrigan, Consultant Breast Surgeon, St John's Hospital, Professor Cathal Kelly, CEO RCSI, Minister Mary Harney, Prof Arnold Hill, RCSI Professor of Surgery, Dr Leonie Young, RCSI Senior Lecturer and Researcher and Mr Jim Dowdall, CEO of Aviva Ireland.

Initial seed funding from Aviva, Ireland’s fastest growing health insurer, of €150,000 per year for the next three years will see the first Breast Research Nurses based at three of the dedicated breast cancer centres, with initial representation in Cork, Galway and Limerick to facilitate the collection of serum and tissue samples and provide patient support. Following informed consent, patients will have the option to participate in this national research initiative.  All information collected will be confidential and will be used by doctors to improve patient outcome in Ireland.

Arnold Hill, Professor of Surgery at RCSI and  Director of Breast Cancer Ireland said; ‘As a small country we recognize the need for collaborative research in order to gain maximum benefit and this initiative will bring together leading national clinicians and scientists, in conjunction with ICORG, (the Irish Clinical Oncology Research Group) creating the countries first National Breast Cancer Tissue Bio Resource and enable speedier discoveries and ultimately more effective and personalised treatments for patients.’

Pictured from (L-R) are Mr Walter Beatty Jnr, Vincent & Beatty Solicitors, Mr Jim Dowdall, CEO of Aviva Ireland, Mr David Simpson, Ms Barbara O’Reilly Hyland, Minister Mary Harney, and Professor Arnold Hill, Professor of Surgery, RCSI.

Consultant Medical Oncologist, Dr. Oscar S. Breathnach of Aviva’s medical council said; ‘Breast cancer is currently the second most common cancer in Ireland with 2,400 new cases diagnosed every year. BreastCheck, the government funded screening programme, together with this new initiative supported by Aviva will continue to focus the creation of approaches to reduce deaths from breast cancer by discovering and treating the disease at an early stage.’

Professor John Crown, Chair of the ICORG Breast Group said; ‘This is a wonderful opportunity to expand on ICORG’s role over the last decade in clinical trials research towards an integrated translational breast cancer research programme in Ireland.’

For further information on Aviva’s partnership with ICORG and RCSI and the National Breast Cancer Clinical Research Initiative log on to or