Ireland needs to move to a single "virtual" national cancer research centre because existing research programmes are too small, a prominent oncologist has said.
Prof John Crown chaired a meeting on Friday which was attended by most of the medical schools and agencies involved in cancer research in Ireland. The meeting had three international speakers – Sir Philip Cohen from Dundee, Prof Ulrik Ringborg from Sweden and Dr Mel Sorensen from the US – who are involved in national programmes for cancer research.
Prof Crown said there was a “general, broad agreement” to develop a national cancer research centre.
"The will is there to do it," he said.
He maintained that there are too many medical schools for a nation of Ireland's size and too much of the cancer research carried out by them is dispersed. "Collectively the number of researchers we have in Ireland would be the size of one large medical school elsewhere," he said.
"The most workable solution is to devise structures whereby people work together following a collective, cohesive loyalty to one national cancer research institute while still maintaining their ability to do independent research."
He proposed that funding for such an institution should not go into a "bricks and mortar" headquarters but would be a "virtual" one where research could be co-ordinated.
“Ireland exists in a challenging, competitive environment when it comes to attracting international research funding and clinical trials,” said Prof Crown.
“The lack of a truly national, umbrella organisation has hindered our ability to attract some important research into Ireland. This is a problem which will become increasingly more significant in the years to come.”