TCD Board announces Flagship Academic Medical Centre for Dublin

Posted on: 30 July 2007

The Board of Trinity College Dublin has endorsed plans to establish a new integrated advanced medical centre, the Trinity Academic Medical Centre (TAMC), in collaboration with its major teaching hospitals, St James’s and the Adelaide and Meath Hospital Dublin Incorporating the National Children’s Hospital at Tallaght (AMNCH).  The first of its kind in Ireland, the TAMC will combine best practice in patient care with cutting edge research and teaching in a single governance medical model based on world-leading healthcare centres. This new single cohesive entity is a radical new departure from the current practice, where the three institutions deliver these activities separately, operating entirely independently of one another. The three institutions have been actively pursuing this plan for some time.

The central purpose of this initiative is better care for patients at all levels.   This will be achieved by rapidly bringing to patients, the benefits of new research and new therapies.

The Centre will have a larger concentration of leading consultants across the range of specialities, ensuring more expert care for patients for serious, complex conditions.

It will offer a highly attractive work environment for the highest talent of the medical  field, which will facilitate the recruitment and retention of the very best of medical professionals.

As a centre of medical education and research as well as advanced services, it will offer improved training for junior doctors, which will have benefits for patients throughout the country.

“There is a direct relationship between patient care and research that creates the prerequisites for a centre of excellence in the field of specific disease and disorders,” stated Trinity Provost, Dr John Hegarty. “By integrating the activities of patient care, education and training and research within the context of an academic medical centre, we are creating the capacity to produce an environment that will make a long standing contribution to Irish society and medicine. We will be also greatly enhancing the environment for the education of medical students”.

“The development of the Trinity Academic Medical Centre has the capacity to  transform the field of biomedicine in the Irish setting. In addition to providing at an early stage innovative patient treatment, the development of the Trinity Academic Medical Centre will permit the integration of advanced, groundbreaking research with clinical practice at an early stage,” the Provost continued.

In welcoming the announcement, Prof Tom Mitchell, Chairman of St James’s Hospital stated: “St James’s Hospital enthusiastically welcomes and has endorsed this innovative initiative. World class medical centres such as the Mayo Clinic have shown that the integration of advanced medical services and medical education and research in a single governance centre is the most effective means to new breakthroughs and high quality care. Ireland needs a medical centre of this model.  We believe Trinity and its teaching hospitals are well placed to provide it.”

Mr Alan Gillis, Chairman of the Adelaide and Meath Hospital, Dublin Incorporating the National Children’s Hospital said: “We are committed to setting world-class standards for performance and patient outcomes. The strength of the association of the member institutions involved in this flagship Academic Medical Centre will facilitate the concentration of expertise, making the Hospital partners ‘more than just  university hospitals’ by providing a breeding ground for fruitful scientific collaboration. The institutions involved in the centre will become leaders in the area of research, patient safety, access satisfaction and improved outcomes. It will also enable us to offer our patients the most comprehensive research, diagnostic and treatment options.”

Trinity College is one of the 100 best universities in the world and provides international leadership in research in areas such as immunology, neuroscience and cancer biology. The integration of this research capacity with the Wellcome Trust funded Clinical Research Centre in St James’s Hospital and the proposed Institute of Preventive Medicine at the AMNCH site provides scope for cutting edge research and new developments in the future.

The Trinity Academic Medical Centre (TAMC) will offer the opportunity for each institution to achieve excellence in all its functions and at the same time provide a single point of contact for all external relationships. It will facilitate interaction and early implementation of developments in allied disciplines, such as physics, medicinal chemistry, biochemistry and immunology in both the Hospitals and the College, for example new developments in magnetic resonance imaging, new drugs and diagnostic tests and new technologies for medical investigation. Such collaboration could include developments of new regimes for MRI imaging based on physics chemistry and neuroscience which could benefit patients with neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.

It is intended that the TAMC will eventually operate as a composite entity with a single Board and Mission.  The TAMC model is based on best international practice in medical school governance. Examples of highly successful single governance models include Penn and John Hopkins in the USA and Leiden, Holland. The College proposes the development of an implementation plan which incorporates the potential for different structures to move at different speeds if necessary towards the implementation of single governance. A transitional steering group has been established to address the specific issues relating to governance required for full implementation.

Medical education and research will be enhanced by the formation of the TAMC. Advantages for Trinity College include, among others, the provision for the School of Medicine to integrate with electing academic hospitals while simultaneously remaining an integral part of the College; the recruitment of premier medical researchers to academic medical positions at a scale which is currently not possible; the provision of a platform for the development of very large scale research funding initiatives which can collaborate and compete internationally on equal terms; and the significant implications for research capacity in translational research both through the peer-review process and through industry collaborations.  Most importantly the integration of the academic goals of the University with the patient centred focus of the hospitals should lead to the delivery of international cutting edge therapy to patients at the earliest possible stage.

The year 2011 marks the tercentenary of the Trinity College Medical School, a major event in the history of this institution. The establishment of this flagship venture will place the School in a leading position both nationally and internationally and will further enhance the position of Irish medicine on the global stage.