Posted on November 18, 2014

Child health research is widely acknowledged as being underdeveloped in Ireland compared with that conducted in other areas. There have been concerns about undertaking research on children because of their vulnerability and the investigation of diseases in childhood has suffered, in part, because of this. However, it is now recognised that children are not simply small adults and it is not sufficient to rely on data from adult studies to inform decisions on how to investigate and manage diseases of childhood.

In a positive move towards addressing this imbalance, today saw the launch of the UCD Academic Centre for Paediatric Research which aims to unite academic and clinical research across UCD to inform decisions on how diseases of childhood are investigated and managed.  The Centre launch was marked by a symposium attended by the leading UCD affiliated researchers working at UCD Belfield and across affiliated children’s hospitals.

Speaking at the symposium, Professor Billy Bourke, Associate Professor and Consultant in Paediatric Gastroenterology at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin and Director of UCD Academic Centre for Paediatric Research Director said

Research provides a basis for the development of excellence in clinical practice across the board by inculcating in health care workers and institutions a spirit of critical enquiry. The UCD Academic Centre for Paediatric Research will further facilitate the sharing of knowledge and expertise as we continue to strive towards making state of the art treatment and care available to our young patients.

The proposed National Paediatric Hospital will offer huge potential in the area of collaborative research for children in Ireland by centralising care for many conditions on one site. Professor Bourke commented

This type of centralisation – where children from all over the country can be involved in a study – allows us to make more accurate estimates of the occurrence of diseases, their impact on children, and their overall severity and outcomes. It will provide our children with the best possible care through a critical mass of healthcare professionals whose actions are evidence-based and informed by the latest medical knowledge. It will allow all Irish children who attend the hospital to participate in clinical research and provide access to blood samples and tissues from a wide spectrum of patients for research into the effects of novel treatments, the usefulness of various investigations and the importance of proposed underlying biological mechanisms.

Paediatric research programmes continue to rely heavily on the tremendous support received through philanthropic organisations such as the National Children’s Research Center, Our Ladys Childrens Hospital Crumlin and Temple Street Children’s University Hospital Research Group. Both hospitals were very well represented in relation to speakers at the symposium with presentations delivered on a diverse mix of topics relating to child health and paediatric research such as Paediatric Genetic Diseases, Childhood Obesity, Diarrhoeal Diseases of Childhood, Early Onset Epilepsy and Cystic Fibrosis. Full list of speakers available here.

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