Review highlights flaws in conduct of medical research

Less a problem of funding than networking, says academic reviewer

HSE: provided useful funding. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

HSE: provided useful funding. Photograph: Cyril Byrne


Irish medical research occurs on an ad hoc basis without proper co-ordination, a review has found. And too many young researchers attempting to build a career here are forced to leave due to a lack of opportunities.

The review by Prof Bernie Hannigan of the University of Ulster will be presented this morning to delegates attending a conference organised by the Medical Research Charities Group, which represents Ireland’s main research charities.

Prof Hannigan, who is also a joint chief scientific adviser to the Northern Ireland Assembly, recognised the important work done by the charities.

She was critical of a general lack of co-ordination in the work overall and a lack of collaboration and networking. “That I think is a particular issue. It is not necessarily a need for more money, it is organisations working on a common problem,” Prof Hannigan said in advance of this morning’s conference in Dublin.

There were also oversight issues. The HSE provided useful funding in support of clinical trials, but it was ad hoc and lacked co-ordination, she said.

Prof Hannigan said the EU fixed-term working directive had made university employers “risk-averse” and less willing to hire highly qualified postdoctoral researchers seeking to build careers here.