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Why invest in life sciences in Ireland?


Dr Mairead O’Driscoll

Interim Chief Executive and Director of Research Strategy and Funding at the Health Research Board (HRB)

Research saves lives, but turning research discoveries into real benefits for people’s health and patient care doesn’t happen by itself.

Putting the patient first

Whether improving lives, prolonging lives or saving lives, health research must be patient-focused. Recently we have invited members of the public to review aspects of the health research proposals we receive. It is the first time something like this has been done in Ireland.

Public Patient Involvement (PPI) aims to involve people in the research process, rather than people being the subject of research. The general consensus is that involving members of the public in the review process helps to improve the quality of the research funded by ensuring that the research we support is relevant to the needs of the public. It’s win-win.

Collaboration is key

International evidence tells us that research-active healthcare systems have better outcomes for patients. Working with the Health Service Executive, health professionals and the research community, we have built a network of clinical research facilities and trials in collaboration with. This ensures the best researchers and health professionals can carry out research that will change people’s lives for the better.

Providing a direct and simple route to this infrastructure is crucial. HRB Clinical Research Co-ordination Ireland deliver support and a regulatory network, which helps to attract clinical trials, pharma and medical device companes to Ireland. As a co-ordination hub, it provides consultancy, support and information services to both academic groups and life sciences companies on product development and clinical strategy process from concept to commercialisation.

Investing for the future

Creating the capacity to conduct life sciences research is essential. In addition to funding research leaders across every discipline, we support early career researchers to create a sustainable supply of credible leaders for the future.

A series of long term investments in PhD training across lots of disciplines, from health services research to clinical academic training, are already creating a large number of future leaders across life sciences. This is simply another part of the plan to ensure life sciences can impact positively on people’s health, patient care and health service delivery.  

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