Health Research Board to invest €13m in cancer clinical trials over next three years.


ICORG programme which trialled Herceptin inIrelandreceives new funding. Patients, clinicians and Irish hospitals will benefit from a new Health Research Board (HRB) investment in cancer clinical trials over the next three years. The All Ireland Co-operative Oncology Research Group (ICORG) will be the recipients of the €13.3m investment.

The money will support trials to help fast track the implementation of new cancer treatments which improve patient outcomes and survival.  More than 4,500 patients have already participated in 181 different trials across 15 Irish hospitals in the past six years as a result of ICORG’s work which is primarily supported by the HRB*. The new funding is expected to give scope for up to 90 trials led by ICORG investigators and similar international groups over the next three years.


The HRB has invested more than €30 million in clinical trials through ICORG since 2002, including the pioneering Herceptin breast cancer trial which had 129 Irish trial participants and is now available as a treatment here for some types of breast cancer.

Minister for Health, Dr James Reilly TD said,

‘Having a successful and very productive clinical trials research programme in Ireland has meant that Irish patients have the opportunity to participate in excellent research and have access to new drugs or tests during these trials. In addition, this very successful clinical trials programme attracts top health professionals into the Irish healthcare system and it encourages industry to invest in Ireland.  It has also helped develop research skills and experience among health professionals and developed rigorous research standards in Irish hospitals.’

Enda Connolly, Chief Executive at the Health Research Board commented,

‘We are building on the success of previous HRB investments in ICORG and this new funding will enable Ireland to lead a wide variety of international trials that will ultimately save lives.

Aside from the clinical benefits, the investment will also have a substantial value to Ireland from an economic perspective. In the past six years, our investments have not only brought new clinical trials to thousands of patients in Ireland, but created 80 jobs and attracted considerable industry investment to the country. Since 2002, ICORG has worked with more than 45 pharmaceutical companies on clinical trials and its presence is a major selling point to global R&D headquarters when sourcing studies to Ireland.’

Ray McDermott Chairman of ICORG welcomed the news,

‘We already have built up considerable expertise amongst our oncologists and health professionals as a result of the HRB funding and developed an international reputation as one of the best oncology research groups worldwide. This additional funding will allow us to continue to build our reputation and attract a variety of new clinical trials to Irelandfor the benefit of people who are living with the reality of cancer.’

ICORG currently has 36 collaborative group studies, 32 industry-sponsored studies and 32 ICORG in-house sponsored studies at the advanced stages of operation. In addition, there are 10 investigator sponsored studies pending.

*ICORG also receives some additional support annually from the Irish Cancer Society.

For more information, please contact:

Gillian Markey
Health Research Board
m 087 2288514
e gmarkey@hrb.ie