C-TRIC celebrates ten years with big plans for expansion

C-TRIC, the Derry innovation centre earning a worldwide reputation for academic-led clinical research, is set to expand thanks to the City Deal initiative, writes Sean McLaughlin.

Monday, 16th September 2019, 11:56 am
Pictured during 10th anniversary celebrations at C-TRIC are, from left, Dr Aaron Peace, CEO, C-TRIC, Councillor Michaela Boyle, Mayor, Derry and Strabane Council, Professor Rafael Bengoa, Institute for Health and Strategy, Bilbao, SPain, Dr Anne Kilgallen, chief executive, Western Trust, John Kelpie, chief executive, Derry and Strabane Council and Professor Paddy Nixon, vice-chancellor, Ulster University.

According to Dr Aaron Peace, C-TRIC’s CEO, the City Deal - which aims to stimulate economic growth in the region - will allow it to build on the established C-TRIC model and, as a result, create further jobs and bring greater participation in research from the community.

The Clinical Translational Research and Innovation Centre (C-TRIC) is currently celebrating 10 years of a unique partnership between Derry City and Strabane District Council (DCSDC), Ulster University (UU) and the NHS, through the Western Health and Social Care Trust (Western Trust).

Based at the Altnagelvin Hospital site, C-TRIC have been instrumental in facilitating healthcare research by bringing together clinicians, academic university staff and industry to achieve better outcomes for patients - both locally and internationally.

Dr Peace, who is also the Trust’s Director of Research and Development, says many successes have been achieved over the past decade.

“Through this unique partnership approach, we have delivered on many types of research study including personalised medicine in cancer diagnosis and treatment, human factor studies for diabetic patients and genomic studies to understand the basis of long-term medical conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis, Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Asthma.”

Dr Peace says C-TRIC facilitates up to 150 clinical studies per year and, to date, the partners have, together, recruited several thousand patients from the local community across the North West.

As a result of these activities, the C-TRIC partners have facilitated economic growth through job creation with numbers increasing from approximately 15, in 2009, to almost 100 in 2019.

C-TRIC has also partnered and delivered on contract research for Lantern Pharma and NovaBiomedical, both in the US, Genomics Medicine Ireland, in Dublin, and Cirdan, based in Northern Ireland, to name but a few. It has also incubated several small and medium sized businesses with a significant number securing further investment through Invest NI, one of the original backers of C-TRIC.

Dr Peace says he is “very excited” for the future which will see the expansion of the C-TRIC building via money awarded as part of the City Deal.

Dr Anne Kilgallen, Western Trust Chief Executive and member of the C-TRIC board, says she is very proud of what has been achieved at C-TRIC over the past ten years: “We look forward to continuing to develop further in the future which will, ultimately, benefit and transform the lives of our patients,” she added.

Dr Paddy Nixon, Vice-Chancellor of Ulster University (UU), believes C-TRIC has made a “sizeable impact” in life-changing, translational and clinical research in the NW.

He added: “Ulster University’s Northern Ireland Centre for Stratified Medicine based at C-TRIC, led by Professor Tony Bjourson, is a global driver of the enhancement of personalised medicine and has developed new biomarkers, diagnostics tools and data platforms that will revolutionise health care.

“C-TRIC’s success is a major boost to the collective ambitions of the city and region and we look forward to the development of the next ten years of the facility and the impact it will make globally while being rooted locally.“

Mayor of Derry and Strabane Council, Councillor Michaela Boyle, welcomed the opportunity to showcase C-TRIC’s role in leading on life and health science research.

“The Council is very proud of its involvement with C-TRIC and the work it does in facilitating healthcare research and is committed to working with its partners to deliver centres of innovation in personalised medicine as part of the City Deal initiative,” she added.