New Diabetes Research Centre for the West

Pictured at the launch of the Galway Diabetes Centre at NUI Galway today (l-r): Professor Fidelma Dunne, School of Medicine, NUI Galway and Co-director of the Galway Diabetes Research Centre; Dr Jim Browne, President, NUI Galway; Speaker Kenneth Sweeney, Senior Footballer with Sligo senior football team and 11 years living with Diabetes; and Professor Tim O Brien, Director of the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI), NUI Galway
Nov 16 2012 Posted: 12:23 GMT

9.6% of Irish Population with Diabetes

Diabetes is now the commonest metabolic illness in the world and earlier this week marked World Diabetes Day (Wednesday, 14 November). An estimated 9.6% of the Irish population now have the disease. With a particularly high prevalence in the Western Region of the country, NUI Galway and Galway and Roscommon University Hospital Group have joined forces to create the Galway Diabetes Research Centre.

The Galway Diabetes Research Centre (GDRC) will bring together an interdisciplinary research consortium of active researchers and clinicians. GDRC members comprise of individuals from across the diverse disciplines including psychology, engineering, economics, health promotion, nursing, midwifery, podiatry and information technology, all of whom have a track record in the field of diabetes.

Based at NUI Galway, the GDRC will link researchers from these diverse disciplines to strengthen and develop close links with clinicians from Galway and Roscommon University Hospital Group and the hospitals linked to the NUI Galway regional Medical Academies. 

Professor Fidelma Dunne,School of Medicine, Co-director of the GDRC explains: “This is an exciting opportunity for researchers and clinicians working in Diabetes at NUI Galway and Galway and Roscommon University Hospital Group. The centre will facilitate the development of each individual’s skills and provide the academic environment for collaboration. The collaboration between an academic institution and Health Care Delivery network will facilitate the efficient translation of research findings into clinical practice resulting in tangible benefits for patients with diabetes.”

Bill Maher, CEO of the Galway and Roscommon University Hospital Group said: “This new research centre for Galway is another example of where the synergy of the Hospital and University can lead to tangible benefits for patients and improved outcomes. Diabetes is a growing health care problem which is putting additional strain on a public health service which will face funding difficulties for the foreseeable future; advances in research which lead to improved treatment and which enhance the skills of our clinicians will promote patient health and are to be welcomed.”

Research clusters

Through three main clusters: Aetiology and Prevention, Current and Future Clinical Management, and Population and Health Services Research, the GDRC will serve the needs of patients with diabetes mellitus and those at risk of developing diabetes mellitus by creating the treatments of the future through research, providing state of the art clinical care and developing the carers of the future through education. 

The three main research clusters, capitalise on the already high volume of diabetes related work undertaken by the University and hospitals.

1. Aetiology and Prevention                                                                                    

Aetiology and Prevention contributes to our understanding of how diabetes develops and what are the underlying mechanisms. Researchers in this cluster are active at every level of disease, from genes, through to glycoproteins and stem cells.

2. Current and Future Clinical management            

Investigators in this strand are focused on the development of new therapies for diabetes mellitus. There is an active clinical trial programme through the HRB Clinical Research Facility, Galway, with the support of research nurses, quality assurance staff and biostatisticians. There is also a major focus on the development of biomaterials and stem cell based approaches to regenerative therapies through the Science Foundation Ireland funded research centres REMEDI and NFB.

3. Population and Health Services Research           

This cluster will contribute to the evidence required to help address the many challenges of health care delivery in diabetes. These challenges include changing the way services are delivered, evaluating the health care needs of the diabetes population and measuring the relative effectiveness of interventions.

The GDRC will be official launched on Friday, 16 November by Dr Jim Browne, President of NUI Galway, and Mr Bill Maher, CEO Galway and Roscommon University Hospital Group. 

Speakers at the event will include: Professor Stephen O’Rahilly, University of Cambridge; Professor John Nolan, STENO Diabetes Centre Denmark; Professor James Shaw, Newcastle University; and Dr Peter Hammond, Harrogate District Hospital, UK. Sligo senior footballer, Mr Kenneth Sweeney also addressed the event who is 11 years living with type 1 Diabetes.

Diabetes Statistics

Diabetes is a chronic condition associated with significant morbidity and mortality. It is the commonest metabolic illness globally, according to the World Health Organisation, 346 million people worldwide have the condition. It is estimated that this figure will double by 2030.  About 90% of all diabetes is type 2. The prevalence of type 2 diabetes is increasing at an alarming rate in tandem with rising obesity rates.

In Ireland the number of people with type 2 diabetes is growing as a result of an ageing population and rising obesity rates. The Diabetes Federation of Ireland estimated that 200,000 people had diabetes in Ireland in 2003 and a further 200,000 had the condition but were unaware of it. They also estimated that a further 250,000 had pre-diabetes and 50% would develop diabetes in the ensuing 5 years if lifestyle changes were not met.

The Institute of Public Health (2005) concluded that 4.7% of the population (circa 150,000) of the Republic had established diabetes, with the highest prevalence in the Western Region (5.2%). The Institute of Public Health have revised their figures again (2012) and now conclude that 9.6% of the population have Diabetes.


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