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IEHG & UCD work together to fight COVID -19

IEHG & UCD work together to fight COVID-19


From the start of the COVID-19 crisis in Ireland UCD and the (opens in a new window)Ireland East Hospital Group (IEHG) have worked together to support patients and staff and ensure they have access to the very best care.

As UCD and IEHG are linked through their joint endeavour to create an Academic Health Science System the infrastructure was already in place to ensure cutting edge research, clinical services, education and training was on offer right from the start.

The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the important role of an Academic Health Science System - the strong links between the Mater, St Vincent’s and UCD have shown how innovation and solutions to problems can develop from this relationship. The UCD office of Health Affairs, lead by Vice Principal for Health Affairs Professor Tim Lynch have worked to establish solid links between the University and the Hospital Group over time to ensure there is clear communication from bench to bedside.

‘As Vice Principal for Health Affairs and Chief Academic Officer of the Ireland East Hospital Group my role is to increase communication and collaborative work between UCD and the IEHG’s 11 hospitals. We need to be aware of the potential for collaboration that exists between the clinical service and academia. There is a significant amount of work at UCD and our hospitals that could benefit from increased cooperation and communication.’

Professor Tim Lynch

Throughout this crisis UCD and the 11 hospitals within the IEHG have established even further links through joint research projects, distribution of PPE and sharing of resources – solidifying their commitment to an Academic Health Science System and to further developing innovative solutions to healthcare problems in the future.

The IEHG and UCD have progressed their COVID-19 action plans through the structure of their Research, Genomics and Innovation Clinical Service Academic Directorates (CsAD) to ensure all service areas are covered during the pandemic. 

Through the actions of the CsAD’s IEHG and UCD are assisting in the national fight against COVID-19 in the following ways:

Research Clinical Service Academic Directorate


  • (opens in a new window)The National Virus Reference Laboratory (UCD NVRL) grew its capacity to test for COVID-19 to 10,000 daily tests following a supply agreement with Genomics Medicine Ireland Limited (GMI). The HSE and UCD NVRL received reagents from the company to allow for 900,000 tests to be carried out on people suspected of having COVID-19.
  • The UCD Conway Institute has been supporting Covid-19 testing by making lysis buffer and viral transport medium as well as providing staff to set up and assist the SVUH microbiology lab for Covid-19 testing. The Conway Institute is also working on drug trials and COVID-19 testing as well as on the production of a novel reagent with NVRL.
  • UCD assisted greatly in the recruitment of the 80 staff involved in the setting-up the molecular lab at Enfer. UCD provided reagents for the PCR of COVID-19 and for the transport medium for the swab, with the capability to provide more if needed. Prof Liam Gallagher of the Conway Institute also chairs the National Committee addressing the testing backlog.
  • IEHG laboratories continue to ramp up testing with labs in the Mater, St Vincent’s, Our Lady’s Hospital Navan and a new IsoPod laboratory at Regional Hospital Mullingar. This includes in-house, external and community testing with 10,000 tests having been carried out at IEHG labs to date.  Through collaboration with IEHG Procurement, HSE Procurement and the National Clinical Programme for Pathology IEHG have secured a steady supply of testing kits and swabs.
  • The supply of reagents for testing is continuously monitored by the IEHG Laboratory COVID-19 Working Group chaired by UCD Associate Clinical Professor of Pathology Prof Conor O’Keane.
  • UCD Vice President For Research, Innovation and Impact Professor Orla Feely sits on the Research Sub-Group of the national Expert Advisory Group which has been advising the National Expert Adviory Group on on drugs trials and testing.

Covid-19 Research Projects

  • Critically ill patients with Covid-19 are taking take part in a UCD-led clinical trial as part of global efforts to find potential treatments for the virus. Professor Alistair Nichol, Chair of Critical Care Medicine at University College Dublin and an intensive care consultant at SVUH, is acting as the Irish lead on the research network - (opens in a new window)REMAP-CAP, (A Randomised, Embedded, Multi-factorial, Adaptive Platform Trial for Community-Acquired Pneumonia). REMAP-CAP has implemented additional trial domains so that the platform can respond rapidly to COVID-19. A number of Irish hospitals are now actively involved in REAMAP -CAP with UCD as the coordinating site.
  • The (opens in a new window)SPRINT SARI ICU study led by Prof Alistair Nicholl is also capturing data on COVID-19 patients across Ireland. The collection of this data to understand COVID-19 is of vital importance as globally we work together to better understand this disease.
  • UCD Professor of Microbial Diseases Professor Paddy Mallon, based at SVUH is leading The All Ireland Infectious Disease cohort study and enrolling patients at a number of Irish Hospitals with infectious disease, including COVID-19. This study collects samples from patients alongside clinical data and allows investigators to determine the molecular contributors to the host pathogen interaction in patients who are ill with COVID-19. This national study involves collaborators from all over Ireland who are working together.
  • (opens in a new window)SOLIDARITY is a clinical trial being led by the World Health Organisation which UCD and the IEHG is actively participating in through Associate Professor of Medicine in UCD, Prof Cormac McCarthy at St Vincent’s University Hospital and UCD Associate Professor Prof Aoife Cotter at the Mater Misericordia University Hospital. The trial intends to rapidly assess in thousands of COVID-19 infected people the potential efficacy of existing antiviral and anti-inflammatory agents.
  • UCD Professor of Gynaecological Oncology at the National Maternity Hospital Donal Brennan is leading a COVID-19 in Pregnancy multidisciplinary study to develop a national registry of COVID-19 positive patients during pregnancy and characterize the strength and type of immune response to COVID19 infection in order to provide insight into the durability of the antibody response, and the provision of transient immunity to the neonate. We will also assess the impact of the pandemic on women’s experiences of birth, and on mental health for women and clinicians and if this varies by place of birth or model of care.
  • The (opens in a new window)UCD Geary Institute’s Behavioral Science Group is looking not only at the immediate government response to COVID-29 but also the economic recovery and the implications for hospitals and health service.

Genomics Clinical Service Academic Directorate


  • Genomics lead Professor Owen Smith – UCD Professor of Paediatric and Adolescent Medicine and Consultant Paediatric Haematologist at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin has been working closely with Genomics Medicine Ireland with regards COVID-19 testing capabilities throughout the pandemic. With the assistance of GMI and UCD ENFER have co-developed laboratory diagnostic tests and secured supply of reagents.
  • UCD have provided students as part of the 80 staff recruited to carry out testing work at the new site. A new molecular lab has also been built within two weeks to provide diagnostic testing for the community.

Innovation Clinical Service Academic Directorate

PPE, Equipment and Contact Tracing

  • Colin Keogh, a research engineer at University College Dublin, is co-founder of (opens in a new window)Open Source Ventilator (OSV) Ireland – a group started little more than a month ago, which has grown to over 600 members globally. The team of volunteers have already released a low-cost emergency ventilator system that works by automating “ambu-bags”, the pumps often used in ambulances and urgent care. The device is aimed at helping patients in places experiencing critical ventilator shortages, and in emergency cases where standard ventilator equipment is unavailable. OSV Ireland is hoping to have its prototypes validated by the Health Service Executive (HSE) soon, thereby allowing for their use in Ireland.
  • Researchers and engineers from theUCD School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering produced 600 face shields to be used by front-line medical staff working on Covid-19 using the University's advanced manufacturing research facility. Using their expertise in 3D printing, a group of engineering volunteers worked with colleagues in I-Form, the SFI Research Centre for Advanced Manufacturing based at UCD, to provide the much Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Additive manufacturing (3D printing) is a highly adaptable technology that can be quickly harnessed to meet an immediate need and enables local production at relatively low cost.
  • Dr Patrick Wall and Prof Mary Codd of the UCD School of Public Health set up the first COVID-19 call centre outside of the HSE with clinical and public health expertise provided onsite by several doctors from the UCD staff. The centre provides test results, information and advice to people who have had COVID-19 tests and to gather information on close contacts for tracing purposes.

UCD Health Affairs

Woodview House, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland
T: +353 1 716 3481 | E: health.affairs@ucd.ie