RCSI researcher awarded €4.3m to establish health research centre

30 Mar 2023

Prof Edward Gregg. Image: RCSI

Formerly of Imperial College London, Prof Edward Gregg will lead a team of 13 new researchers to help reduce the burden of chronic diseases.

Prof Edward Gregg, a leading population health scientist, has been awarded €4.3m from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) to fund a new research centre at RCSI.

Named Converge, the new centre for chronic disease and population health research will aim to transform the way population-level data and research platforms are deployed in Ireland to prevent and reduce the burden of chronic diseases such as diabetes and obesity.

The funding SFI funding was awarded through its Research Professorship Programme and will see the creation of 13 research positions in the new centre.

Led by Gregg, the team will develop a novel data ecosystem and undertake studies to prioritise the current, emerging and future health priorities in chronic disease and morbidity in Ireland and globally.

It will use new population registries and integrated data sources to quantify the impact of care and disease prevention in the real world, as well as develop models to prioritise intervention and risk assessment options for prevention of diabetes, chronic diseases and multi-morbidity.

“The global type 2 diabetes pandemic is having devastating effects on individuals, families, health systems and national economies,” said Gregg, a former Imperial College London academic who joined RCSI as its inaugural chair of population health last June.

According to Gregg, a tenth of the world’s adults have diabetes. Moreover, the number of people living with type 2 diabetes in Ireland has almost doubled in the past 15 years, accounting for more than €550m per year in direct health care costs.

“We will establish new, smarter disease registries to determine what works best in the real world. This will help public health leaders to prioritise approaches that will change the future risk and damage caused by diabetes and other chronic conditions,” he added.

Researchers at the new centre will collaborate closely with other world-class institutions and researchers, including the World Health Organisation, Imperial College London, the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Maynooth University, the University of Galway and the HSE.

“The group aims to develop the science and collaborations that will pave the way for innovative population registries for chronic diseases,” said Prof Philip Nolan, SFI director general. “Such work has valuable potential to improve health outcomes for patients and better inform policy.”

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic