The first integrated paediatric academic unit in Ireland was officially opened on Monday 18th June by Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney, T.D.
Following a multi-million euro investment by University College Cork, Science Foundation Ireland and a generous philantrophic donation, the new unit is located in an exceptional tri-location between Cork University Hospital, Cork University Maternity Hospital and University College Cork.
The first of its kind in ireland, the new paediatric academic unit focuses on improving health outcomes for children, from infancy through to adolescence through teaching, research and innovation. home to more than 60 staff, including clinical and academic leaders, scientists, nursing staff and PhD researchers; the academic teams tackle clinical problems such as newborn brain injury, infant seizures, allergy, eczema, sleep, and explore ways of enhancing the long-term wellbeing and development of children.
Speaking at the official opening, Tánaiste Simon Coveney T.D. said, “this is a progressive and innovative step to improving children’s health in Ireland and internationally through academic research. The collaboration between clinicians, researchers, industry, trainees, patients and their families will yield enormously positive results to shape paediatric healthcare of the future. I would like to acknowledge the vision of UCC and the College of Medicine and Health in leading this development with the SFI funded INFANT Centre. The funding model for this initiative should also be lauded which has allowed significant exchequer funds via SFI and philanthropy to leverage substantial support from UCC to realise the overall investment required. ”
The new unit has a substantial footprint of 1400m2 covering 32 rooms, including state of the art assessment rooms for clinical studies, seminar rooms, clinical skills rooms, tutorial rooms, offices and laboratory spaces. The unit is the new home for both paediatric academic training and the paediatric clinical research arm of the world leading sfi-funded infant centre. The unit will facilitate a range of clinical research programmes that will improve children’s health and support the exploration and development of new innovations by industry.
President of UCC, Patrick O’Shea noted “UCC is proud to invest in this facility as it will provide world-class teaching and research with real impact. The facility is now home to one of the leading paediatric research departments in Ireland and the clinical research of infant, a world-leading SFI research centre, which will support long-term sustainable and impactful research, talent development, and training for children’s research”.
Professor of Paediatrics and Child Health, Jonathan Hourihane noted, “this facility in the school of medicine is integrated with the Cork University Hospital paediatric outpatient departments on the floor below. This will allow tomorrow’s Doctors to see research-led healthcare being developed and delivered and will make patient research more understandable and accessible for children”.
“The development of clinical research infrastructure and research studies for children and infants is absolutely vital and will result in better outcomes for irish children. Recruitment and retention of patients to clinical studies here in Cork leads the way in Europe. We are incredibly grateful to the Irish families who participate in our research and would like to take this opportunity to thank them sincerely for their dedication and support.” said Geraldine Boylan, Co-Founder and Director of the INFANT research centre and UCC Professor of Neonatal Physiology. “We would also like to sincerely acknowledge the support of the College of Medicine & Health, UCC central research support services for all of their assistance and ongoing support, and our colleagues in the Clinical Research Facility-Cork”.