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 fundraising events and/or donating to DIRA.


Previous 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 Surgeons 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. The 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 is 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 the 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 the study name link above.


“What influences self-care in young adults with Type 1 diabetes. A 12-month study 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 ObesityAdipocyte Size and Type 2 Diabetes in Obesity – A Study of Patients undergoing Bariatric Surgery.

DIRA Supported Research

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


Each Year, DIRA selects a JDRF project taking place on the island of Ireland and directs research monies to that project.   For 2020/2021, the selected project is Lipoxins as Pro-Resolution Therapeutics in Diabetic Kidney Disease led by Prof Catherine Godson and Dr Eoin Brennan, University College Dublin in collaboration with Prof Mark Cooper and Dr Phillip Kantharidis,  Monash University, Melbourne.


Diabetic kidney disease (DKD) is a serious life-limiting chronic complication of Type 1 diabetes. DKD affects approximately 35% of persons with diabetes and is closely associated with cardiovascular disease. As we understand more about the mechanisms that drive DKD it is possible to envisage novel interventions which might be useful in addition to conventional control of blood glucose and blood pressure.


In this context, there is a growing consensus that chronic inflammation in the kidney is an important driver of DKD. Inflammation involves important physiological processes that keep us safe from infection and injury and it is vital that the onset and duration of inflammatory responses are tightly regulated.


This is achieved by the body producing mediator molecules that resolve the inflammatory state. Such mediators include small molecules called lipoxins (LXs). In this ongoing research, the researchers have generated synthetic LXs and are exploring how these might be effective as prototype drugs for treating diabetic kidney disease using experimental models.  They are investigating the molecular details underlying such responses and identifying where the compounds act. They are using the LX-mimetic drugs in conjunction with conventional standard-of-care drugs to see whether there is an additive benefit.


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