• SFI supports pioneering advances in biomanufacturing
    Sakis Mantalaris (Credit: NIBRT)

Research News

SFI supports pioneering advances in biomanufacturing

Mar 14 2024

Professor Sakis Mantalaris, NIBRT Principle Investigator and a leading figure in cell therapy research, has been awarded €4.88 million by the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Research Professorship Programme as a joint appointment with Trinity College Dublin, to facilitate a collaborative pioneering research programme to improve the biomanufacturing of cellular therapeutics.

Cell therapy, the transfer of living cells from one source or person to another, or into the same person after manipulation for a desired function, is increasing especially for patients with advanced cancers, immune or degenerative conditions, as the benefits are being realised. However, variability in cell quality, type and the process used to create them makes the product unpredictable.

Professor Mantalaris, in collaboration with Professor Nicki Panoskaltsis, from Trinity’s Translational Medicine Institute (TTMI) and St James’ Hospital, are working to mitigate this through creation of a platform to characterise and direct cellular heterogeneity through the understanding and control of metabolism throughout biomanufacturing in order to deliver improved clinical outcomes.

 Professor Mantalaris also aims to bring a new Masters training programme in Advanced Precision Therapeutics & Biomanufacturing, in collaboration with NIBRT, St James’  and The Irish Blood Transfusion Service to Trinity’s Graduate Studies Committee.

 “I am delighted to have been awarded an SFI Research Professorship in the area of Cellular Therapeutics. Ireland is a global leader in the ‘knowledge-based’ biomanufacturing sector, which is being shaped by the emergence of novel complex personalised medicines, such as cellular therapeutics. This award will provide a unique opportunity to integrate the academic excellence at Trinity College Dublin with the biomanufacturing excellence at the National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training (NIBRT) towards future clinical translation of cellular therapies at the St James’s academic campus," he said.

 Welcoming the award, Dr Darrin Morrissey, NIBRT CEO, said: “This significant research funding in an area of national strategic importance is testament to the forward thinking collaborative approach taken in recent years by NIBRT, Trinity College and TTMI at St James’ Hospital to attract one of the world’s leading researchers in cell biology and precision bioprocessing to Ireland. The SFI Research Professorship funding, supporting Professor Mantalaris to establish his team across the three institutions, is pivotal in developing Ireland as a leading global location for the development of these remarkable new cell-based medicines. We at NIBRT are thrilled and honoured to be co-hosting Professor Mantalaris and his high-impact research program at our state-of-the-art research facility.”

Professor John Gilmer, Head of School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences, Trinity College Dublin, said: “Professor Mantalaris is the first holder of the Trinity College Panoz Chair in Pharmaceutical Biology, a position intended to provide leadership in advanced therapeutics research and translation. Professor Mantalaris is an outstanding researcher in biomanufacturing with extensive experience at world class institutions. The SFI Research Professorship programme and opportunity to work with NIBRT were important factors in attracting Professor Mantalaris to Ireland.”

Professor Philip Nolan, Director General, Science Foundation Ireland, welcomed the appointment, saying: “SFI is delighted to support Professor Mantalaris, whose funding will support an additional 9 research positions. The SFI Research Professorship is designed to attract world-class researchers, building Ireland’s critical expertise and international reputation for excellence. His research will bolster cell therapy research here, further strengthening our global biopharma sector, while simultaneously bridging the gap between fundamental science and translational medicine.”

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