Trinity joins national effort to involve public in research process from the start

Posted on: 02 February 2021

Trinity College is delighted to announce its involvement in a national initiative to promote and encourage the involvement of the public at the very start of the health research process. The PPI Ignite Network, with a combined €3.3 million funding from the Health Research Board and Irish Research Council, will provide a national voice for PPI (Public and Patient Involvement) in health research. With financial and in-kind support from the Network partners, this is a €5 million investment in PPI in Ireland.

PPI is research undertaken ‘with’ or ‘by’ members of the public rather than ‘to’, ‘about’ or ‘for’ them, improving research quality and ensuring that it is relevant, useable and in the best interests of the patient and general population.

The funding will allow Trinity to continue running its successful PPI Ignite Office until 2025 and to lead the national conversation on improving the quality of PPI nationally. The Ignite Office will advance our understanding of the impact of PPI on research, researchers, contributors and on society in general.

Principal Investigator for PPI Ignite Prof Mary McCarron said:

Phase 1 of PPI Ignite has been a huge success for Trinity.  We have seen public and patient involvement embedded within the strategies and processes of Trinity. Through training, events and workshops, we’ve reached over 1,500 researchers and have worked closely with NGOs, groups and individuals to make PPI a reality in a wide variety of fields such as dementia, autism and intellectual disability. This Phase II funding gives a national voice to PPI and sends a clear message to researchers, to patients, to interested members of the public, that Trinity is committed to finding ways to build the partnerships and relationships – across disciplines and sectors – that will make research more collaborative, more meaningful and more impactful through PPI.

Michael Foley, Project Manager for the Trinity Ignite Office said:

We have fostered many different relationships with both researchers and PPI contributors over the past few years. This new phase will raise the profile of PPI at a national level, encouraging more people to become involved. It will be a chance for a diverse array of voices to emerge which can influence not just what research is happening but can also help to set the agenda for research into the future.

Dr Mairead O’Driscoll, CEO of the Health Research Board (HRB) said:

Involving people in the work we do and the work we fund leads to improved research, improved outcomes and improved lives. People’s insights and life experience can inform that work in ways researchers operating in isolation can’t. This new PPI Ignite Network is the next step in the HRBs national leadership of involving people in research. Working with the Irish Research Council and all the partner institutions, we are helping to ensure that people and patients are involved at every stage of Irish health and social care research, right from the start, before pen is even put to paper for a research proposal.

Irish Research Council (IRC) Director Peter Brown said:

The exchange of knowledge and innovation is a key action in the IRC’s strategy, so I am delighted to further support this award announced today. This programme seeks to embed a culture of public and patient engagement in research across our higher education institutions and promotes richer, more meaningful research outcomes. Following recent joint initiatives such as the COVID-19 Rapid response call, the IRC are pleased to again be partnering with the HRB in support of research for societal benefit.

Alongside Trinity, the network will include NUI Galway, UCD, DCU, UL, RCSI, UCC, NUI Maynooth and Queens University Belfast, along with Health Research Charities Ireland (HRCI), IPPOSI, Campus Engage, HSE Research and Development, Tusla, HRB Trials Methodology Research Network, SPHeRE. There will also be a total of 54 local partners across the sites.

The new PPI Ignite Network will:

  • Develop and deliver PPI education and training to undergraduate and postgraduate students, researchers, the public, patients, and community organisations, policymakers, and research funders;
  • Explore ways of making it easier to involve patients and the public in research, how to identify what is good PPI and how to measure the impact of PPI;
  • Ensure the voices of marginalised and disadvantaged groups are heard;
  • Establish an online PPI hub, annual PPI Festival and other events to share examples of good PPI, provide useful PPI resources and share knowledge and experience. The online hub will also connect patients and members of the public interested in being involved with researchers seeking PPI partners.

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