NUI Galway and the University of Ulster have joined forces with HSE West and the Western Health and Social Care Trust to create a collaborative cross-border partnership on diabetes-related research. The “Atlantic – Alliance for Cooperation on Research into Diabetes” (Atlantic – ACORD) initiative brings together clinicians and researchers from the health service, academia and industry, and patients to develop innovative solutions to problems related to the growing problem of diabetes.
Diabetes has been targeted because of its increasing prevalence and the associated health care costs. The prevalence of type 2 diabetes is 4-5%, and 1 in 10 pregnancies develop gestational diabetes.
Participants will also include allied health professionals, including dieticians, podiatrists, diabetes specialist nurses, IT specialists and psychologists. Priority research areas for the partnership are health technologies, the use of geographical information systems in database analysis, diabetes in pregnancy, and beta cell engineering. These research themes represent some of the key needs for patients in the region and will form the initial focus of further collaborative research proposals.
Professor Fidelma Dunne, Head of the School of Medicine at NUI Galway, said: “Tackling diabetes has become an international healthcare priority in the western world. This new research alliance, Atlantic -ACORD, is all about joined-up thinking and pooling resources and expertise north and south of the border”.
The ultimate aim of the initiative is to enhance the quality of life for patients with diabetes mellitus, and to focus on prevention, treatment and management of the disease. The participant organisations are enthusiastic about the prospect of a formal cross-border initiative in diabetes research, helping tackle this disease, which is a both a growing problem in society and major healthcare service challenge.
Professor Finbarr O’Harte of the University of Ulster, said: “The Atlantic – ACORD initiative is an exciting opportunity for us all to pool our expertise in the field of diabetes research for the benefit of diabetes sufferers. This cross-border cooperation should help bring real improvements in prevention, treatment and management of diabetes in this catchment area”.
Welcoming the initiative, Dr Maurice O’Kane, Head of Research and Development, Western Trust, and C-TRIC, said: “The establishment of Atlantic-ACORD is another significant step forward in putting in place strong systems for research into prevention and treatment of diabetes. This will help us engage even more widely with experts both in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, which will lead to real benefits in how we understand and treat diabetes”. It is planned to collaborate with other diabetes centres and work towards an all-island diabetes research network.