Diabetes Ireland Research Alliance


The Diabetes Ireland Research Alliance (DIRA) was set up in 2008 as a subsidiary of Diabetes Ireland, the national charity supporting people with diabetes in Ireland.

DIRA has the specific aim of promoting, supporting and funding research related to the causes, prevention and cure of diabetes.

The Alliance primarily funds high quality diabetes research projects in Ireland and raises the necessary funds to support these projects.  DIRA invites and encourages the Irish Diabetes community to directly support global research into finding a cure for Type 1 diabetes by organising fund raising events and/or donating to DIRA.


DIRA funded research in Ireland


Towards novel anti-infectives with enhanced wound-healing for diabetic foot; CO- releasing star-shaped microbicidal polymers this research is led by Dr Deirdre Fitzgerald-Hughes, Royal College of Surgeon’s in Ireland. She, in collaboration with medicinal chemists and clinical microbiologists, will develop and evaluate, in a laboratory setting, a new class of medication delivered directly to the wound. This new compound has the potential to effectively deliver enhanced properties to treat and heal infected wounds with diabetes. Total funding to deliver this project over the next 2 years is €170,000 Euros.



It is estimated that 422 million people worldwide are living with diabetes and among them, a common and serious problem is the development of diabetic foot infection. One in five patients with diabetes are hospitalised with a diabetic foot wound (DFW) at least once in their lives. Infected DFWs are treated by removal of infected tissue and intravenous antibiotics against the infecting pathogens. However, antibiotic treatment often fails due to underlying complications of diabetes such as poor blood flow to the foot and a weakened immune system.  In this environment, the infecting bacteria form highly protected communities (biofilms) that are even more difficult to treat with antibiotics. One in five patients with infected DFW has lower limb amputations due to medical treatment failure. Novel ways to effectively treat infections of DFW, close the wounds created and restore function are urgently needed. Ideally, such treatments should kill the bacteria that cause these infections when applied locally to the infected foot, and deliver long-lasting healing for effective wound closure.

Here we will develop and evaluate specialised dual-action antimicrobial polymers as an externally-applied treatment for chronic infected DFWs.   The antimicrobial polymers are composed of positively-charged proteins called peptides, arranged in a star-shape. We already know that star-shaped antimicrobial polymers kill a range of bacteria. Additional anti-bacterial capacity will be built into the star-shaped antimicrobial polymers by chemically attaching units that can release controlled amounts of carbon monoxide (CO) if a light source is applied. CO, although better known for its toxicity at high concentrations, has many of the therapeutic properties needed to effectively treat infected DFWs such as anti-biofilm, anti-inflammatory and wound-healing properties.


Identifying the Aetiology of Diabetic Progenitor Cell Dysfunction In Osteoporosis”  This research is led by Professor Tim O’Brien at  Galway University Hospital. The goal is to enhance bone quality for people with diabetes. To read more, click on study name link above.

Peer-to-peer motivational interview intervention for smoking, alcohol and physical activity among at-risk adolescents in low SES communities. This research is led by Assoc. Prof. David Hevey, Trinity College Dublin and focuses on using peers to promote healthy behaviours in a group normally difficult to influence through regular health promoting channels. To read more, click on study name link above.

Completed Studies


“What influences self-care in young adults with Type 1 diabetes. A 12 month study which will identify the factors that influence diabetes management/self-care amongst young Irish adults (aged 23-30) with Type 1 diabetes.

Why Me? The Diabetes – Genes This Autoimmunity and Prevention study may help find the answer.


The Galway Diabetic Foot Study Epidemiology, Cost, Feasibility, and Implications for Clinical Practice and Policy.

Adipocyte Size and Type 2 Diabetes in Obesity Adipocyte Size and Type 2 Diabetes in Obesity – A Study of Patients undergoing Bariatric Surgery

DIRA Supported Research 2

In 2009, DIRA entered into partnership with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) UK in order to encourage high-quality research on Type 1 diabetes in Ireland, promote Ireland as a JDRF base for international research and to directly support the global research work of JDRF. JDRF is widely acknowledged as the leading global charity  funding Type 1 diabetes research.

Harnessing vascular stem cells to model and treat diabetic retinopathy  Over time, uncontrolled Type 1 diabetes can lead to blood vessel damage and complications. Dr Reinhold Medina, Queen’s University, Belfast  and his team are developing a way to test potential treatments for these, and investigating if stem cells could form part of one such treatment. It’s thought that up to a third of people with type 1 will develop some form of retinopathy, so it is important to find an effective way to treat and prevent the condition. Unfortunately, most currently available treatments for diabetic retinopathy focus on its later stages, by which time the person has often lost some of their sight. As a result, it would be tremendously helpful to have new treatments targeting earlier stages. Dr Medina’s project could lead to one such treatment, by improving blood vessel repair and preventing the later stages of diabetic retinopathy.


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  • Getting Involved in Research Studies

    Are you interested in getting involved in Irish Research? There are many diabetes-related research studies going on in Ireland and they regularly seek people with diabetes or members of their family to take part.   From 2017 we will be featuring a list of studies that have gained ethical approval and are taking place now... View Article

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