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University of Limerick researcher receives emerging investigator award

Dr Clodagh Toomey
Tue, 18 Jun 2019

A University of Limerick researcher has received an emerging investigator award to explore how patients with hip and knee problems can participate in exercised based therapies.

Dr Clodagh Toomey among a group to receive funding from the Health Research Board (HRB), which is investing €8m in new health research.

The awards are designed to create a pipeline of researcher leaders who will improve health, influence clinical practice and inform health policy across a broad range of areas.

In a highly competitive process, a total of 11 awards were selected by an international panel from 45 eligible applications, addressing a broad range of health areas.

Dr Toomey, who studied physio and completed her PhD at UL and is currently a research associate at the University of Calgary in Canada, will examine the implementation of clinical guidelines for osteoarthritis.

The project will explore how best to ensure that exercise and education programmes can be delivered so that patients with hip and knee problems have both access to, and the support they need, in order to participate in exercised based therapies, she explained.

“I am currently a Research Associate at the Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre in the University of Calgary, Canada. This is a world-renowned and International Olympic Committee affiliated research centre with expert scientists and clinicians specialising in sports injury and disease prevention research,” Dr Toomey said.

“Working here, I have grown an extensive international network in the field of osteoarthritis prevention and rehabilitation and have seen an opportunity to use this knowledge and best practice to implement programmes to benefit the health of Irish people with musculoskeletal disease.

“This HRB Emerging Investigator Award will allow me to return UL, where I completed my physiotherapy and PhD training, to deliver an exciting programme of research with an excellent inter-disciplinary team of established researchers - Prof Anne MacFarlane (GEMS), Prof Norelee Kennedy (Dept of Allied Health), Prof Liam Glynn (GEMS), Prof John Forbes (GEMS) and Prof Ewa Roos (Southern Denmark University).

“This research will aim to utilise community engagement to implement exercise and education as first-line treatment strategies for the management of hip and knee osteoarthritis in Ireland, with the potential to act as a template to promote a policy of exercise and physical activity referral for chronic musculoskeletal disease in Ireland,” she added.

The other awards address a broad range of health areas including Breast Cancer, Type II diabetes, stroke, self-harm, sepsis, TB, clinical guidelines, gender differences in cardiovascular disease, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.

Dr Darrin Morrissey, Chief Executive at the HRB, said: “We want this investment to advance the skills and expertise of researchers, while at the same time generating research outcomes that have strong potential to impact on people’s health, patient care or health policy.

“The HRB is committed to training and to enhancing career paths for people across all disciplines in health research. This programme of funding will ensure that researchers can take the next steps in their research career as independent investigators, demonstrate leadership potential and build a complementary support team.

“All successful applicants in winning funding demonstrated a strong research vision and identified a career path beyond the duration of the funding award which is very promising for the future of health research in Ireland,” he added.