Research News

Cancer experts support Tánaiste’s call for establishment of All-Island Cancer Institute

  • 02 May, 2024


Leading Irish and international cancer researchers and clinicians have strongly endorsed the call by An Tánaiste, Micheál Martin for the establishment of an All-Island Cancer Institute.

Speaking on Friday at the inaugural Joint Euro-American Forum on Cancer, a major international event which took place at Farmleigh House, the Tánaiste emphasised the need for an All-Island Cancer Institute which would build on the work of the hugely successful ‘Ireland-Northern Ireland-US National Cancer Institute Cancer Consortium’ which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. Initiatives such as the All-Island Cancer Research Institute (AICRI), a partnership of 10 universities on the island, have highlighted the quality of cancer research being performed and how working across the island can deliver better outcomes for cancer patients.

Responding to the Tánaiste’s statement, Professor William Gallagher, Professor of Cancer Biology at UCD School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science, UCD Conway Institute Fellow and co-lead of AICRI said, “We wholeheartedly agree with the Tánaiste’s call for an All-Island Cancer Institute. Our work in AICRI has demonstrated the benefit of working together on a cross-border basis. Projects such as AICRIstart, funded through the Shared Island-funded North South Research Programme, emphasise the importance of collaborative research. Critical areas of all-island partnership should encompass cancer biobanking, cross-border cancer clinical trials, and survivorship research.”

The concept of an All-Island Cancer Institute was also raised by Professor Deirdre Heenan, Professor of Social Policy of Ulster University and Professor Mark Lawler, Professor of Digital   Health at  Queen’s  University Belfast and Co-Lead of AICRI at the Forum, as they jointly launched the “Cancer Knows No Borders – an all-island blueprint for cancer research and care” initiative, funded through the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies, University of Notre Dame, USA and the Royal Irish Academy Analysing and Researching Ireland, North and South (ARINS) project.

Professor Lawler said, “Our data are compelling, demonstrating how the quality of research increases with cross-border collaboration, coupled with the evidence linking quality research to better care and improved outcomes for patients.  We firmly believe that a data-enabled patient-centred All-Island Cancer Institute would deliver unparalleled benefits for the health and wealth of our societies North and South. Cancer Knows No Borders, neither should we.”

Professor Heenan added, “We aim to bring together the combined strengths of cancer researchers, clinicians, academics and service users across the island of Ireland to create a blueprint to tackle this common enemy. This is an opportune time to redouble our efforts to significantly improve services and outcomes for cancer patients throughout this island.”

Speaking at the Forum, Professor Alberto Costa, Special Advisor to EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides and CEO of the European School of Oncology emphasised the importance of the Comprehensive Cancer Centre model as the best way forward to address cancer Europe-wide. Professor Costa said, “I have been impressed by the quality of research that is being performed across the island of Ireland as presented in Farmleigh over this two day event and suggest that an all-island approach, such as that employed by AICRI, represents a credible direction of travel going forward.”

Doctor Julie Gralow, Chief Medical Officer of the American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO), who with Professor Lawler was Scientific Co-Chair of the Joint Euro-American Forum on Cancer concurred.

Doctor Gralow said, “These two days of discourse and debate have firmly embedded the concept of enhanced transatlantic cooperation as a means of delivering research-enabled enhanced cancer care on the island of Ireland. An All-Island Cancer Institute would be the logical next step.”