Health Research Board award to help tackle hospital-acquired infections in Ireland

Posted on: 23 January 2007

The Health Research Board (HRB) has awarded a €1.5 million grant to a new multi-disciplinary research team in the School of Dental Science, TCD and the Royal College of Surgeons/Beaumont Hospital. The project will investigate and help tackle health-care-associated infections (HCAI), such as those caused by meticillin-resistant Straphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE).

The research will investigate four specific areas:
? To monitor the effect of enhanced disinfection and cleaning processes on MRSA and VRE prevalence
? To investigate the clinical usefulness of the rapid detection of MRSA using molecular diagnostic techniques
? To apply molecular strain typing techniques to environmental, carriage and infecting strains
? To develop and implement improved hand hygiene measures to achieve near 100% compliance with best practice.

The HRB funded research team includes Prof. David Coleman and Dr Derek Sullivan, School of Dental Science, TCD, Prof. Hilary Humphreys, RCSI/Beaumont Hospital, Dr Robert Cunney, Health Protection and Surveillance Centre and Dr Angela Rossney, National MRSA Reference Laboratory, St James’s Hospital. The project will be funded for four years and the Trinity arm of the project will be conducted by postdoc Anna Shore and PhD student Peter Kinnevey, who will be based in the newly opened Watts Oral Bioscience Laboratory in Trinity’s School of Dental Science.

According to Prof. David Coleman, School of Dental Science, TCD; ” The objective of our multi-disciplinary translational project is to investigate the efficacy of novel strategies to reduce the levels of health-care acquired infections in our hospitals. In particular, we will investigate the potential of decontamination of wards using vaporised hydrogen peroxide and the application of rapid molecular diagnostic techniques to identify patients colonised with MRSA on admission. In addition, the Dental School research group will be particularly involved in the tracking of strains, using molecular strain typing techniques, within the hospital setting to identify how MRSA is spread within our hospitals”.

Mary Harney, TD, Minister for Health and Children said:
“I very much welcome the HRB study on healthcare-associated infections. Our health system must provide safe, high-quality services that achieve the best possible outcomes for all patients and I want every patient to have the highest possible confidence in the safety and quality of their care. It is important that we can employ the most up to date approaches to ensure this is the case. The results of this new research activity will be important in the continued fight against healthcare-associated infections at both strategic and operational level”.

“Translational research is needed to apply the discoveries made in science to the treatment or prevention of disease, it is a bench to the bedside approach,” said Dr Ruth Barrington, Chief Executive at the Health Research Board. “We firmly believe that the approach taken by this team will help increase our understanding of how MRSA operates and interacts in order to help reduce the impact of health-care-associated infections among Irish patients.”

Multi-disciplinary research team to investigate mrsa

(left to right): Dr Derek O’Sullivan, Dublin Dental School and Hospital, TCD, Dr Angela Rossney, National MRSA Reference Laboratory, St. James’s Hospital, Professor Hilary Humphreys, RCSI/Beaumont Hospital, Professor David Coleman, Dublin Dental School and Hospital, TCD and Dr Robert Cunney, Health Protection and Surveillance Centre