Funded by the Health Research Board of Ireland (HRB) in December 2005, this research consortium for the first time brings together a large group of obstetricians and gynaecologists on the entire island of Ireland who share an interest in furthering clinical research in obstetrics and gynaecology for the betterment of the Irish population. The cumulative research population available to Perinatal Ireland is 50,000 pregnant patients per annum, which lends itself to large-scale clinical research trials. Initially this consortium is focusing on the use of imaging technologies in obstetric diagnostics and management. In the future however, the Perinatal Ireland infrastructure will lend itself to supporting research in gynaecology and a range of multidisciplinary scientific collaborations. Perinatal Ireland will become a self-sustaining research group, with further funding being obtained from a range of governmental and private funding sources.
At present the initial €3.9 million start-up grant will be used over five years to implement a research infrastructure across the eight Irish consortium member sites, including the Rotunda Hospital Dublin, Coombe Women’s Hospital Dublin, National Maternity Hospital Dublin, Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital Drogheda, Cork University Hospital, Mid-Western Hospital Limerick, University Hospital Galway, and Royal Hospitals Belfast. This all-Ireland consortium has placed high-end ultrasound imaging platforms with complimentary computer hardware and software at each clinical site. The sites also receive salary support for dedicated research sonographers for the five year duration of the initial start-up grant.
Perinatal Ireland is an RCSI-led consortium, and the overall consortium chairman and lead Principal Investigator is Professor Fergal Malone. The target deliverables for Irish healthcare consumers and providers will include improved quality service provision through evidence-based medicine. Future research trials will be of interest to multidisciplinary investigators and funding agencies, providing tangible benefits to the individual Perinatal Ireland member sites. It is hoped that the Irish healthcare system will benefit from Perinatal Ireland in a symbiotic research relationship, which will enhance Ireland’s clinical research and academic profiles.