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NI Research Networks

HSC R&D Division provides the core funding for Research Networks in Northern Ireland.

There are two types of Research Network:

The Northern Ireland Clinical Research Network (NICRN) (including the Cancer Trials Network): provides research-skilled health professionals working across Northern Ireland, who can help researchers to set up and run high-quality clinical studies quickly and effectively across Health and Social Care (HSC) tructures, so that patients can benefit from new and better treatments. They also facilitate training & education needs in research and endeavour to work with patients and the public to ensure their needs are at the centre of this research activity.

HSC R&D Division investment for NICRN is currently £4.1M a year.

The Northern Ireland Public Health Research Network (NIPHRN): is set up differently and facilitates individuals to form Research Development Groups (RDGs) to develop research protocols to attract external funding in relation to a new policy/intervention planned by a policy, practice or service partner or a natural experiment in the field of public health.


Research networks work alongside the other R&D structures in Northern Ireland such as the NI Clinical Trials Unit (CTU) and the NI Clinical Research Facility (CRF) to aid NI researchers in their ability to design and conduct clinical research within Health & Social Care environment to the highest national standards.



   Northern Ireland Clinical Research Network

 including the


Northern Ireland Cancer Trials Network


NICRN aims to:

  • Enhance the ability of patients and health care professionals to participate in and benefit from clinical research
  • Enhance the quality of clinical research undertaken within HSC
  • Improve the speed of delivering research outcomes
  • Enhance the regional coordination of clinical research across Trusts and academic organisations
  • Improve integration of clinical research within HSC structures and services

The NICRN is made up of different clinical specialty groups working in areas that are relevant to the HSC. These are led by clinicians with a proven track record in clinical research. The groups are facilitated by research support posts in the HSC, so that researchers have access to experienced staff, who can carry out the research study and for example, obtain participant consent, carry out extra participant tests, and collect the clinical data required for the research. The Network also provides help to identify and recruit patients onto research studies, so that researchers can be confident of completing the study on time, and on target.

The current Director of the NICRN is Dr Jonathan Jackson (Head of Optometry, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust); email: JJackson

The main clinical specialties supported by NICRN are:

Cluster 1: Cancer 

Cluster 2: Cardiovascular, Diabetes, Renal, Stroke, Orthopaedic, Gastroenterology, (Dermatology, Rheumatology) 

Cluster 3: Critical Care, Respiratory Health, (Perioperative medicine)

Cluster 4: Child Health, NeuroDegenerative Diseases, Mental Health, Vision & Primary Care


For further information on how to engage with NICRN please contact the relevant NICRN Clinical Leads for the Clinical Specialty Groups

Other general queries should be directed to the NICRN coordinating centre website: or contact:  
Paul Biagioni (Senior Manager NICRN) email: Paul Biagioni
Sonia McKenna (Staff Manager NICRN) email: Sonia McKenna

Click here to download a leaflet about the Northern Ireland Clinical Research Network (NICRN).


Cluster 1: Cancer

The Northern Ireland Cancer Trials Network (NICTN) is part of NICRN and facilitates the delivery of cancer clinical trials and other high quality clinical research throughout Northern Ireland and aims to:

  • co-ordinate and promote cancer clinical trials, and run the full range of first-in-human phase I to phase IV trials, along with genetic epidemiology, questionnaire, quality of life, translational and other high quality studies. 
  • provide cancer research nurses working in all five HSC Trusts in Northern Ireland.
  • promote high quality cancer care in Northern Ireland by inclusion of patients on a geographically more equitable basis into cancer clinical trials, translational research and other well-organised cancer research studies.
  • be integral to the Belfast Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC), one of 18 such centres appointed within the UK.

NICTN also receives funding from Friends of the Cancer CentreProstate Cancer UK, and Bloodwise. (The ECMC is jointly funded by HSC R&D Division and Cancer Research UK)

For more information please see NICTN website or contact:
Melanie Morris (Operational Director NICTN) email Melanie Morris
Stuart McIntosh (Clinical Director of NICTN; Consultant Breast Surgeon, Belfast Health & Social Care Trust; Honorary Senior Lecturer, Queen’s University Belfast) email Stuart McIntosh





Northern Ireland Public Health Research Network


The Northern Ireland Public Health Research Network (NIPHRN) (launched in 2012) aims to; facilitate public health intervention research; extend the public health evidence base; increase engagement between public health professionals, academics and the third sector and increase the quantity and quality of public health research in Northern Ireland. 

The NIPHRN uses a Research Development Group (RDG) model to bring people together from a range of backgrounds in public health to focus on developing a specific research protocol to attract external funding. The NIPHRN has over 300 members and any member can suggest a research idea which can then be circulated to other network members. Membership is free and you can register for the Network by visiting the website

Further information and registration forms can be obtained by contacting or the Network Director:

Mark Tully (email)
Professor of Public Health
School of Health Sciences
Ulster University

Website: Northern Ireland Public Health Research Network (