News within Clinical Medicine
Out of eleven clinicians awarded the HRB Clinician Scientist Awards through a rigorous peer review process, two recipients Professors Joseph Keane and Orla Hardiman are from the Department of Clinical Medicine.
The HRB investment allows leading doctors to split their time between clinical practice and research, develop research questions based on clinical issues they encounter with patients and to translate their research results into practice at the bedside. Areas that will benefit from this funding include mental health, cancer, heart disease, neurodegenerative disease, diabetes, obesity, and neonatal care. As part of the programme the HRB also pay to replace the consultant's time in the clinic to ensure service levels remain the same.
Professor Orla Hardiman will investigate Motor Neurone Disease and and Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD). 70% of people with MND and MND/FTD die within 1000 days of their first symptom. Ireland is uniquely placed to perform detailed studies of patients with rare conditions like MND, and the Irish MND research group is a world leader in the detailed study subgroups of people with different variants of the disease. The work is of considerable importance as it will help to find new and more effective drugs. Drug development requires an extensive knowledge of disease mechanisms, the identification of the correct target group of patients for treatment, and the development of markers of both disease progression and of drug effectiveness. The Irish work has already made a significant international contribution to our understanding of the importance of subgroups, and is engaged in extensive collaborative research with European partners to find new and more effective treatments. The research will also establish efficient and cost effective protocols for patient care and services for neurodegenerative diseases.
Professor Joseph Keane seeks to improve our understanding of how the bodies' immune system deals with infection by the bacteria that causes tuberculosis. Using material from patients, and bacteria from infected persons, he will investigate the ways that human immunity is corrupted by this invading parasite. Specifically, it will examine how normally helpful T-cells are interfered with by TB-infected lung macrophages. Advances in this field will lead to therapies that can take on resistant infections, improve vaccine design and better address the emergence of multiple-drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR).