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Statement by the Minister for Health & Children Mary Harney, T.D. on Cancer Research

Commenting on the publication today of the European Cancer Research Managers Forum Second European Survey the Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney T.D. said: “This report analyses how cancer research is funded and enables us to monitor our progress in cancer research funding in relation to our European counterparts.”

Of the 32 European countries surveyed, the report places Ireland in 9th place in terms of direct cancer research spend per capita.

Co-operation on cancer research continues in the context of the All Ireland-National Cancer Institute Cancer Consortium, particularly in the area of cancer clinical trials.

* Patients in Ireland are already benefiting from the development of a clinical trials network across 11 hospitals throughout the island.
* Between 2002 and 2008 the HRB will have invested more than €21m to support this initiative.
* Recent successes of the Irish Co-operative Oncology Research Group (ICORG), funded by the HRB include:
o The number of staff involved in cancer clinical trials has risen from five when the initiative started to 105 today.
o The group recruited the 2000th patient during 2006.

The group expects to recruit 600 patients in 2007 rising to 1000 per year by 2009
A new Memorandum of Understanding with an extended remit in terms of cancer control was signed by the Ireland and Northern Ireland Health Ministers in November 2006 at a conference in Belfast under the auspices of the Cancer Consortium. The agreement reaffirms the commitment of the governments of Ireland, Northern Ireland and the United States of America to supporting the work of the Cancer Consortium.

The Minister recently established an Expert Working Group to develop proposals on a National Cancer Biobank under the auspices of the Consortium. The Group is expected to report early next year.

The Minister said: "cancer research in recent years has been transformed. It is only by focusing strategically on growing our cancer research capacity that we can position ourselves to reach the potential of the current era. I recognise that in order to attract and hold the brightest and best of our graduates in medical and scientific fields, we must provide access to the best possible research opportunities in Ireland. This will also help to protect the investments we have made in training people and in developing the infrastructure within which they currently work. I will continue to be committed to developing the infrastructure and attracting the people who can help to make Ireland a place of international renown for cancer research."

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