The HRCI 2023 Annual Report

We are delighted to present this report detailing our activities throughout 2023. It was a year filled with numerous highlights as we continued our efforts to advance health research in Ireland.

While HRCI has always maintained a focus on Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) in a broad sense, it has become increasingly evident that a specific emphasis on the involvement of charities, such as our member organisations, in research requires additional consideration. Consequently, we collaborated with the PPI Ignite Network to produce a guide to partnerships between charities and researchers. This initiative has sparked important discussions that will continue in the years to come.

The longer we run the Irish Health Research Forum, the more apparent it becomes that there is immense value in bringing together diverse stakeholders to shape the discourse on health research in Ireland. The topics we addressed during our 2023 events – research ethics and biobanking – resonated strongly with the health research community. Full attendance, stimulating discussions, and the subsequent guidance of the Steering Group enabled us to formulate what we hope will be impactful recommendations. Additionally, through a productive collaboration with the Cystic Fibrosis Registry of Ireland, we hosted an event on another vital topic for the community: patient registries. We continued this partnership and also engaged National and International Skin Registries to develop a practical guide for establishing and maintaining a patient registry, a priority for many of our members.

While much of our work involves supporting research in various capacities, we also occasionally undertake research through partnerships. In 2023, we had the good fortune to collaborate with Dr Nicola Mountford of Maynooth University, as well as the HRB, to conduct research on the HRCI-HRB Joint Funding Scheme. The results offer valuable insights for us and others interested in research funding schemes focused on patients and the public.

In the latter half of the year, we focused on developing our new strategy to guide our activities from 2024 to 2027. Our staff and directors worked collaboratively to ensure that it is responsive to our members’ needs. Furthermore, 2023 marked Suzanne’s final year as HRCI Chair. We are pleased that our working relationship continues in Suzanne’s new role as Manager of the Rare Disease Clinical Trial Network, to which HRCI is a partner organisation.

With a small staff team, we not only value partnerships but are entirely dependent on them. You will note the many valuable collaborators and partners highlighted throughout the report. We express our heartfelt gratitude to all our partners, member organisations, the Board of Directors, and our staff team for their steadfast support and numerous contributions to our collective mission in 2023. We eagerly anticipate the work ahead under our new strategy and the leadership of our new Chair, Brian Lynch.

Thank you for taking the time to read our annual report.