In 2010, MMI was approached by a number of principal investigators in the partner institutions to facilitiate the establishment of an Irish Biomarker Network. The aim of the network is to connect scientists, clinicians and industry representatives interested in biomarker research to share expertise and best practice in discovery, translation and commercialisation of biomarkers across disease areas. The network was establised to be a forum for discussion on the issues encountered. The founding members of the Irish Biomarker Network are Prof. Dolores Cahill of UCD, Prof. Louise Kenny of UCC, Prof. Mark Lawler of TCD, Dr. Nicola Miller of NUIG and Prof. Alice Stanton of RCSI. The current members of the Irish Biomarker Network Steering Committee are:
- Prof. Dolores Cahill of UCD
- Prof. Louise Kenny of UCC
- Prof. Alice Stanton of RCSI
- Dr Thomas Barry of NUIG
- Prof John O'Leary of TCD
- Dr Mark Watson of MMI
- Dr Suzanne Bracken of MMI (coordinator).
Some of the objectives of the network include:
1. To develop a Directory of Biomarker Research in Ireland to catalogue details of the PIs engaged in biomarker research, the key thematic areas, current biomarkers developed and under development for pre-clinical and clinical settings, samples available for sharing from healthy controls and disease cohorts for clinical validation studies.
2. To build an Irish Biomarker Web-Portal as a central electronic facility to share knowledge and best practices in biomarker discovery and development including the sharing of standardised procedures for biobanking and biomarker studies, guidelines for study design and statistical methods, standard templates for IP, protocols and links to relevant resources.
3. To examine how the Irish Biomarker Network will work with the CRCs in building
harmonisation of approach for clinical studies involving biomarkers.
4. To propose a common approach to ethical approval to support biomarker discovery and
clinical validation incorporating the education of academics on what is ethically permissible and legitimate for biomarker studies, considerations for future-proofing studies and a template for a model of broad informed consent.
5. To develop a mathematical modelling system for biomarkers with a view to examine how they interact with / affect each other, their assignment against disease traits and to explore how these can be tested against the disease traits in large patient / population cohorts.
6. To identify the data that needs to be harmonised in the area of biomarkers for clinical and translational information technology systems under development.