An Taoiseach Mr Enda Kenny today officially launched The Sports Surgery Clinic Research Foundation, which aims to lead and facilitate Ireland becoming a leading international centre for sports medicine research.
As Ireland’s leading provider of services in Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, the Sports Surgery Clinic in Santry has cared for over 150,000 patients in the last seven years. The SSC Research Foundation will now build on this strong clinical foundation to harness the vision and experience of leading international clinician-scientists.
The purpose of the Foundation is to lead and facilitate national and international research programmes in a coordinated fashion to the benefit of patients not only in Ireland but all over the world. At the centre of the plan is the proposed local development of a world-class state-of-the-art centre that will link athlete training, rehabilitation and medical care to fundamental, transition and clinical research.
In addition to the research into the investigation and management of concussion, other key programmes will be built on the fundamentals of genetic, cellular/biologic and biomechanics research for the prevention and management of soft tissue injury.
Conducting research, clinical and athletic care activities at a single site, and utilising evidence-based care in patients, will better inform treatment and rehabilitation programmes, and can enhance recovery time and ensure the best clinical outcome possible. Whilst patients will benefit in the short-term, there will also be a long-term impact; reduced morbidity, improved recovery and increasing levels of return to normal activity mean less public health and social care funds will be required in the future. This is of critical international importance given the long-term impact seen at the level of patient, society and the economy if early intervention is not optimised.
Whilst the SSC Research Foundation will act an Irish-based hub for individual research programmes, they will be delivered by teams of physicians and scientist across the world where there is a common interest in working together. This will facilitate the increased potential for achieving the required level of funds to drive the research, and the dissemination of the results, on an ongoing basis.
The Foundation will create 20 scientific research and administration jobs in the first year, growing to over 100 by 2020. Rather than be solely dependent on public funding and traditional grant schemes, the SSC Foundation will target philanthropic donations to allow immediate action and continued focus on clinically relevant research. As the programme develops, additional international hubs or Foundation Centres may be developed in order to widen the pool of patients further which will also enhance the ability to achieve public-private funding partnerships in all jurisdictions.
The global strategy of the SSC Research Foundation, through the assembly of the international panel of doctors on the advisory board, is to ensure the sharing of ideas internationally. Clinician-scientists in Epidemiology, Biomechanics, Genetics, Osteoarthritis, Concussion and Cellular Medicine make up the inaugural Scientific Advisory Board of the SSC Research Foundation. Chaired by Prof Paul McCrory of the Florey Institute for Neuroscience and Mental Health in Melbourne, Australia, a neurologist and sports physician, the board will ensure focus in relevance to patients and that regulatory oversight will be in place at all times.
According to Dr Andy Franklyn-Miller, Director of the SCC Research Foundation, “The Sports Surgery Clinic has already invested over half a million euro in the development of 3D Biomechanical testing for over 900 patients with a groin injury from as far away as Australia and the Middle East as well as from amateur and professional sport. We see patients with ligament and muscle injuries every day, and it is this expertise that has allowed us to put together the case for the creation of the SSC Research Foundation. Now it’s time to share our expertise with the world and conduct research which will benefit patients of the future.”
|“The development of a word class training facility will allow individuals and teams to be screened, train and utilise cutting edge testing and recovery facilities, and allow residential rehabilitation to be focused and driven by research. The genetic and cellular laboratories will ensure on-site work to develop techniques of accelerating repair at the cellular injury level in muscle and ligaments.”|
“We are a registered charitable research foundation so there are benefits for philanthropic donors, and as a recognised research body we can access grants and direct funding for research, but there will be a shortfall, and we will need to work hard to raise the funds required over the next 18 months. Today we are reaching out to attract philanthropic, industry and private funding,” he added.
Speaking at the launch, An Taoiseach Mr Enda Kenny said, “I am pleased to launch the Sports Surgery Clinic Research Foundation which brings with it a €15 million investment in a new research centre along with 20 new jobs in its initial stage. As the Government works to secure economic recovery, we are determined Ireland can be a world leader in research and innovation. The Life-Sciences sector is playing its part, and this ambitious research project is very welcome in that regard.”
Prof Paul McCrory added, “We intend to create the first truly global comprehensive concussion centre program which will assist both professional and amateur athletes by providing clinical expertise in the diagnosis, management and rehabilitation of concussion. A strong research program is critical as there are so many unanswered questions in this injury. Coordinated research is needed to address these issues and the Foundation aims to achieve this by focusing on cellular technology, genetics, biomarker discovery programs, screening, neuroimaging, and impact biomechanics.”
“In addition to the concussion program, over the next few years, we will identify many more areas where the focus will be required including female athlete health, paediatric injury, injury prevention and cellular and stem cell work on cartilage. The SSC Research Foundation will attract the brightest international scientists and researchers to Ireland and this will be an exciting time in sports medicine.”