Four of the paediatric centres involved in the RECOVER study in the Republic of Ireland are part of a clinical research network, CF:INK, coordinated through the National Children’s Research Centre (NCRC) located at CHI at Crumlin, Dublin. The NCRC has been in existence for over 50 years and was established with the key aim to improve the lives and health of children through research. It is the mission of the NCRC to support internationally competitive, high quality research that makes a lasting improvement to the lives of children.
For research to be transformative, it must span the full spectrum from the child’s bedside, where challenging medical questions remain unanswered, to the laboratory bench, where we begin to look for answers at the organ, cell and molecular level. The NCRC provides the following enabling infrastructures to allow the vital link from bedside-to-bench-to bedside research to occur:
- A state of the art laboratory on the grounds of CHI at Crumlin. The laboratory houses the very best scientific equipment to allow the most advanced techniques be applied to patient samples. The Laboratory also incorporates a Biosample Storage Facility which is vital for the secure storage of precious patient samples. The laboratory and Biosample Storage Facility are available for the conduct of paediatric research whether supported by NCRC research grants, or other. The facility is open to academic researchers, doctors, nurses, allied health professionals as well as all those working under the CCRU remit. Dedicated laboratory staff operate the facility and ensures the highest standards of health and safety are observed, equipment is maintained, and that users are trained as appropriate.
- Sample management facilities including:
- A patient proximate sample processing room based within the hospital and sample processing facilities within the NCRC laboratory, for the rapid processing and short-term storage of clinical samples. Both are equipped with a refrigerated centrifuge and microbiological safety cabinet.
- A biosample storage facility, with temperature monitored freezers fitted with an electronic alarm system, in which invaluable biological samples from sick children are stored at ultra-low temperatures for future scientific analysis. This facility is monitored 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and includes back-up storage facilities in case of emergency. To ensure the best standards are observed to maximise sample integrity and safety, this facility is managed by a dedicated laboratory team.
- A Children’s Clinical Research Unit (CCRU) which allows clinicians working with sick children to conduct high quality paediatric focused clinical research in a safe and ethical manner. The CCRU provides the expertise, dedicated infrastructure and resources required to assist Clinical Teams, Academic and Industry Sponsors to conduct clinical research at Children’s Health Ireland (CHI) at Crumlin, and other hospitals across Ireland. It consists of a dedicated team, committed to supporting clinical trials and studies to ensure that children in Ireland can access high quality and evidence-based treatments. With the increasing focus on paediatric trials internationally, it is the aim of the CCRU to ensure that Clinical Teams have the support necessary to conduct these studies in Ireland.
- Research Grants. The NCRC has been building paediatric research capacity in Ireland for over 50 years through a range of competitive grants. These have evolved over the years in an effort to meet the needs of the whole research community. Starting with small grants to cover postgraduate fees and seed funding to support start-up projects, they progress to full fellowships for clinicians, nurses and allied health professionals. Our project grants offer substantive support across the entire spectrum of translational research and allow for funding of postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers under the guidance of senior research personnel who direct the project. We are also aware, as we move towards the New Children’s Hospital, of the need to support senior professionals and research leaders. The NCRC Research Leadership Award has been initiated to facilitate the creation of leadership roles in key areas of paediatric research to ensure it is embedded at senior levels across the hospital and academic institutes.