In 2010, The Daughters of Charity Service (DoC) and its fundraising body RESPECT embarked on an ambitious plan led by the late Sister Martha Hegarty to establish an interdisciplinary research institute for intellectual disabilities: The DOCTRID Research Institute was thus established with the support of four Irish Universities, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) and Michigan State University (MSU). In September 2011, the Daughters of Charity and RESPECT appointed Professor Brian Harvey of the RSCI as Director of Research, to design, implement and oversee a strategic plan for the establishment of the DOCTRID Research Institute. Professor Harvey has also expanded the number of universities participating in DOCTRID by adding three additional Irish Universities, Queen’s University in Belfast, and the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) in the USA.
The DOCTRID Research Institute operates as a coalition of scholars in a distributed research network that funds and carries out collaborative inter-disciplinary research and training across all Irish universities and USA partners. DOCTRID is designed to serve as a center of research excellence in conducting evidence-based research to inform policy and practice to improve services, care, and outcomes for the individuals served at the Daughters of Charity Service and other service delivery organizations serving individuals with autism and intellectual disability in Ireland and on a global basis
Universities in Ireland and the USA have partnered with the Daughters of Charity Service and RESPECT to create this unique institute. They are: Dublin City University (DCU), National University of Ireland Maynooth (NUIM), National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG), Trinity College Dublin (TCD), University College Dublin (UCD), University College Cork (UCC), University of Limerick (UL) and Queen’s University Belfast (QUB). In addition, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) is a partner in the DOCTRID Research Institute, as well as Michigan State University (MSU) and the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS). Memoranda of Understanding have been signed between all of these parties and the Daughters of Charity Service and RESPECT.
DOCTRID undertakes collaborative research with university and industry researchers and is closely linked to the DoC Services. DOCTRID supports this partnership with the universities and the DoC Service, through the acquisition of funding for sustainable research programmes, fellowships and development of assistive technologies. The primary aim of DOCTRID is to implement and sustain empirical and evidence-based research to better the lives of people with autism spectrum disorders and intellectual disability. The recent launch by Michigan State University of the Hegarty Fellowships and the EU COFUND Award ASSISTID are of inestimable importance in establishing DOCTRID as an international programme for advanced research in autism and intellectual disabilities.
DOCTRID is positioned in a unique place and time-frame to undertake and support research and technologies to address critical needs in the area of autism, intellectual and other neurodevelopmental disabilities in order to make important, meaningful and sustainable impact on the quality of life of individuals with these disabilities on a global basis. Firstly it is not aligned to any specific university nor to selective research projects. Moreover, DOCTRID has the support of all the Universities on the island of Ireland, and key partners overseas, in particular, Michigan State University and UMMS. Thus DOCTRID is well-placed to operate a distributed international model for its research institute. Secondly, the establishment of DOCTRID is opportune given the funding opportunities in Connected Health, a national research priority, in the context of ICT for social inclusion and Assistive Technologies for disability in the EU framework programme of Horizon 2020, and the US-Ireland Partnership Grant (HRB-NI, HRC, NIMH).
MSU-DOCTRID HEGARTY FELLOWS PROGRAMME
In 2012, we received initial funding from the MSU Office of the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies, Office of the Provost and the College of Education. The funding from MSU is being used to fund three interdisciplinary post-doctoral research associates (MSU-DOCTRID Hegarty Fellows Programme) who officially began their appointments with MSU in July of 2013, following international peer-review and are housed within the College of Education in the Office of Rehabilitation and Disability Studies. These highly unique fellowships are named in honour of the late Sister Martha Hegarty who was a visionary and leader in the design and development of DOCTRID. These Hegarty Fellows will be co-located at both MSU and selected Irish partner universities (TCD and NUIG) during their two-year research appointments with MSU-DOCTRID.
This past October the Hegarty Fellows traveled to Dublin with a large contingent of MSU researchers and administrators to participate in the DOCTRID Conference at the Castlenock Hotel. The Fellows were able to make formal research presentations at the DOCTRID conference and have tours and meetings at the DOC Service and their Irish host university, in preparation for their first six-month deployment in Ireland beginning January 2014. At the conference, MSU President Lou Ann Simon announced that MSU plans to extend the Hegarty Fellows Program for an additional three years through 2019. This extraordinary level of support by the MSU President will mean that MSU-DOCTRID will be able to fund nine Hegarty Fellows over the next six years to work with DOCTRID.
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