All-Ireland Consortium: Health Diplomacy at Its Best
The most recent milestone is the newly established Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology (CCRCB), officially announced last month during a ceremony at Queen's University in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The CCRCB has been established as an interdisciplinary research center bringing together researchers from the Schools of Medicine, Chemistry, Biology & Biochemistry, Pharmacy, and Mathematics & Physics. The new Centre will be led by Dr. Patrick Johnston of Queens University Belfast and will work closely with local institutions that conduct cancer clinical trials.
Scholar exchanges thus far have included three Irish scholars given 3-year fellowships in epidemiology that include 1 year working with NCI's SEER program in Bethesda, Md. and more than a dozen nurses who have trained in oncology nursing and clinical trials for 3 months at the NIH Clinical Center. The collaboration between the cancer registries covering the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland under the auspices of the Consortium has resulted in the first-ever comparison of cancer incidence rates between the North and South. The Prevention Working Group, chaired by Dr. Doug Weed of NCI's Division of Cancer Prevention, has been particularly active within the Consortium. In addition to participating in workshops in Ireland on topics such as "Cancer Prevention and Tobacco Control" and "Obesity and Cancer," the working group has dedicated itself to building a community of prevention-oriented scientists and cancer caregivers on the island of Ireland. Perhaps the most tangible manifestation of this commitment is to be found in the fact that over 80 researchers and health care providers from the island have participated in the NCI's Summer Curriculum in Cancer Prevention (see http://cancer.gov/prevention/pob). This program includes a 4-week course, "Principles and Practice of Cancer Prevention and Control" and a 1-week course, "Molecular Prevention." The faculty for these courses consists of approximately 85 experts from NCI, NIH, and academic institutions. Over the past 5 years, the courses have drawn approximately 140 international participants. In addition to the activities related to cancer prevention, the Cancer Consortium has been engaged in the formation of an All-Ireland Cooperative Group for conducting island-wide clinical trials in cancer. The headquarters function of the Cooperative Group is located in Dublin with a center for data management and statistics in Belfast.
To date, three Telesynergy suites have been installed at Belfast City Hospital and at both St. Luke's Hospital and St. James' Hospital in Dublin under the auspices of the All-Ireland Cancer Consortium.
Later this month, the Implementation Group of the Consortium, chaired by Dr. Harford, will assemble in Dublin within the context of the World Congress of Cancer Organizations meeting. There, the group will mark the 5-year anniversary of the Consortium and discuss plans for the next 5 years of this very successful collaboration.
More information regarding the All-Ireland Cancer Consortium can be found at http://www.allirelandnci.org.