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Centre for Doctoral Training in Transformative Pharmaceutical Technologies

The Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) is a partnership between University College London, the University of Nottingham, and SSPC - the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Pharmaceuticals.

The CDT provides world-class PhD training to early career researchers. Our graduates have the knowledge and skill to take active molecules from drug discovery and design, and transform them into medicines to treat patients.

Funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Council in the UK, Science Foundation Ireland and a total of 19 industry partners, we provide world-leading training to prepare scientists for high achieving careers in the pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors.

Academic Supervisors

Students in the CDT who are funded by the SSPC are based in one of 3 universities in Ireland: Trinity College Dublin, UCD or UCC. Their research is supervised by an academic member of staff for 4 years of the PhD.

Prof. Anne Marie Healy, CDT Co-Director/Principal Investigator

School of Pharmacy, Trinity College Dublin / Twitter: @amhamon

Research Interests

Anne Marie Healy is Professor of Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Technology in the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Trinity College Dublin and is one of the Co-Directors of the Centre for Doctoral Training in Transformative Pharmaceutical Technologies. She is also Co-Principal Investigator of SSPC - the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Pharmaceuticals, and was awarded the SSPC Researcher of the Year in 2019. This award recognises Anne Marie’s many contributions to the Centre with exceptional scientific outputs.


Her research interests include pharmaceutical material science, preformulation and formulation of pharmaceuticals, amorphous solids, co-crystals, formulating poorly soluble drugs, pharmaceutical processing and pulmonary drug delivery.

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Anne Marie has a B.Sc. in Pharmacy and a Ph.D. in Pharmaceutics, both from the University of Dublin. She joined the School of Pharmacy, TCD in 1992 as a Lecturer in Pharmaceutics. In 2010 she was elected Fellow of Trinity College.

Professor Healy has published extensively, with over 100 international peer reviewed publications. She has graduated 20 PhD students, mentored 25 postdoctoral researchers, and has been awarded €10 million in competitive grant income.

Professor Healy has received funding from both national and international agencies to progress her research. As well as her involvement as Co-PI with the SSPC, she has held a Science Foundation Ireland Principal Investigator award focused on the development of fixed dose combination products using advanced pharmaceutical processing technologies. She has also received NIH funding to work on a collaborative project with the University of California, San Francisco and University College Dublin aimed at developing novel mucolytic therapies for lung disease. She was awarded a Special Visiting Researcher Fellowship by CNPq (Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico, Brazil) in 2014 to further her collaborative research with the Faculty of Pharmacy of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

Financial Support

Science Foundation Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, Irish Research Council, CNPq (Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico, Brazil), National Institutes of Health (NIH, USA), numerous pharmaceutical companies including: APC, Xeolas, IVAX Pharmaceuticals, Merrion Pharmaceuticals, Velox GmbH, Amebis, Solvotrin Therapeutics, Pfizer, GSK, Merck, Eli Lilly, Janssen, Roche, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Alkermes, UCB Pharma, Abbvie, Clarochem, Innopharma Labs, Glantreo, Dynochem, Eirgen, Novartis, Allergan, Genzyme, Biomarin, FMC, SK Biotek.

Publications

Publications

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Dr Abina Crean, Senior Lecturer in Pharmaceutics

School of Pharmacy, University College Cork / Athena Swan Steering Committee Member / Twitter: @AbinaCrean

Research Interests

Dr Abina Crean graduated with a degree in Pharmacy from Robert Gordon's University, Aberdeen, Scotland in 1992. In 1997, she completed a PhD in Pharmaceutics in the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Trinity College Dublin. Abina worked as a formulation scientist with Elan Pharmaceutical Technologies and as a Process Development Pharmacist at Servier (Ireland) Industries. Since joining the School of Pharmacy in UCC in 2003, she has been actively involved in the development of the new research facilities and curriculum.

Her research interests include pharmaceutical material science, preformulation and formulation of pharmaceuticals, amorphous solids, co-crystals, formulating poorly soluble drugs, pharmaceutical processing, pulmonary drug delivery and formulation stability.

Abina led the School of Pharmacy’s successful Athena Swan Bronze application in 2018 and is a member of the University’s Athena Swan Steering committee.

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Research Interests

My research interests are focused on the development of high quality, effective medicines through thorough investigation and understanding of the properties and associated behaviour of constituent materials (both API and excipients).

Examples of current research projects include:
  • Development of quality by design strategies to study the critical material attributes of pharmaceutical excipients
  • Enabling continuous pharmaceutical solid oral dosage from manufacture through identification, control and monitoring of critical material attributes
  • Formulation and characterisation of microneedle drug and vaccine delivery systems
  • Development of silica-based drug formulations to enhance the oral bioavailability of therapeutic compounds challenged by poor-water solubility
  • Biophysical characterisation, processing and formulation of peptide, protein and vaccine materials
  • Manipulation of commercial dosage forms for administration to elderly patients
  • Publications

    See Abina's UCC profile for a full list of publications (link below):

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    Dr Steven Ferguson, Assistant Professor in Bioprocess Engineering

    School of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering, University College Dublin / Twitter: @Ferguson_UCD

    Research Interests

    Dr Steven Ferguson graduated from UCD with a degree in Chemical & Bioprocess Engineering. He subsequently completed his PhD research in continuous crystallization of drugs as part of the SSPC Research Cluster. Steven has held positions in industry with the Novartis-MIT Center for Continuous Manufacturing in the USA. Steven later worked for Biogen where he developed novel clinical forms for first in class drugs in collaboration with pharmaceutical sciences and engage in the development of flow synthesis and continuous manufacturing technologies.

    Steven returned to UCD as Assistant Professor in Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering. His research group focuses on drug delivery, separations and advanced manufacturing of pharmaceuticals. He has assembled a multidisciplinary team with expertise in separation processes, downstream bioprocessing, process simulation, flow synthesis, unit operation & reactor design, crystallization and formulation; structured to be vertically integrated to bring fundamental insights from multiphase systems, reactions or separations, through simulations and prototypes to actionable technologies.

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    Research Interests

    Publications

    See Steven's UCD profile for full list of publications

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    Dr Lidia Tajber, Associate Professor

    School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Trinity College Dublin / Twitter: @LidiaTajber

    Research Interests

    Lidia Tajber is Associate Professor in Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Technology in the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Trinity College Dublin and is currently the Director of Research for the School. Lidia first gained an M. Pharm. degree from Medical University of Silesia, Katowice, Poland (with first class honours, ranking 1st in her class) and then pursued her Ph.D. degree in the School of Pharmacy, Trinity College Dublin (completed in 2005). She holds a postgraduate diploma in quality improvement and completed "Research leaders" training.

    Lidia has published 76 high quality peer-review papers and contributed to numerous international conference presentations. Her current h-index is 25. She is also a co-inventor on a number of patent applications including "A method of producing porous microparticles" and "A polymeric nanoparticle". In addition to being an active researcher, she contributes to undergraduate (Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Technology module) and postgraduate (Preformulation, Formulation and Advanced Drug Delivery modules) teaching. She is part of the coordinating team for the MSc in Pharmaceutical Sciences course.

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    Research Interests

    My research programme concentrates on the fundamental understanding of molecular interactions governing the properties and performance of pharmaceutical substances (actives and additives) at molecular, supramolecular and formulation (drug product) levels. More specifically, the research topics pursued by my group are:

    Advancement of the physicochemical and biopharmaceutical properties of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) by conversion into ionic liquids (anti-crystal engineering); development of oral solid formulations containing ionic liquids. Synthesis, phase characterisation and behaviour in formulation of alternative forms of APIs such as salts, cocrystals, amorphous materials, polymorphs and liquid crystals; construction of multi-phase diagrams for stability. Rational preformulation studies leading to quality solid-state formulations. Nanocrystal and polymeric nanoparticle formulation and characterisation methods.

    Financial Support

    My research efforts have been supported by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), Enterprise Ireland, Irish Research Council as well as the European Union. I am involved in the Synthesis and Solid State Pharmaceuticals Centre (https://www.sspc.ie/ ) as a funded investigator. I was awarded a prestigious SFI Career Development Award in 2017 on the development of pharmaceutical ionic liquid forms and also currently serve as Director of Steering Committee in a H2020 RISE network "ORBIS" (Open Research Biopharmaceutical Internships Support (http://orbisproject.eu/ , awarded in 2017). I currently supervise a group of 8 researchers and host visiting ORBIS secondees from the pharmaceutical industry.

    Impact

    My research activities fit with national policy objectives supporting the development and production of a highly educated and relevant workforce in demand by the pharmaceutical industry. My team and I have successfully participated in collaborative, multidisciplinary and industry-led research consortia (IDDN, SSPC, H2020 RISE) leading to high impact research, leveraging international funding and attracting talented people to Ireland. The ultimate objective of my work is to advance the pharmaceutical product design and manufacture to benefit the general public and enhance the quality of health stability.

    Publications

    See full list of publications here

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    Dr Katie Ryan, Assistant Professor

    School of Pharmacy, University College Cork /

    Research Interests

    Dr. Katie Ryan is a lecture in Pharmaceutics in the School of Pharmacy, University College Cork. She graduated with a degree in Pharmacy from Trinity College Dublin, in 2001. Upon completion of her degree she undertook her pre-registration training with Élan Pharma and at Waterford regional hospital. Thereafter, she went on to pursue a PhD in Pharmaceutics with Prof. Pat Deasy in the School of Pharmacy in Trinity, in area of novel excipients for topical drug delivery.

    In 2006, Katie joined the School of Pharmacy at UCC where she teaches both undergraduate and postgraduate courses in the areas of formulation science, novel drug delivery systems and statistics. She has undertaken a number of research visits to Prof. David Mooney’s Bioengineering lab in Harvard University investigating cellular responses to biomaterials used in drug delivery and tissue engineering. In 2013, she spent her sabbatical leave in the Mooney lab researching novel biomaterial strategies to promote bone tissue regeneration.

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    Research Interests

    Katie's research has focused on the design of next-generation orthopaedic medical devices with salient features (controlled surface topography, physicochemical factors, drug loading and release) to optimise device performance at the biological interface and the subsequent long-term performance in vivo. To this end, her research has investigated novel device coatings to direct biological responses and targeted drug delivery for infection control. Her interest in bone tissue and regenerative strategies also underpins her research in bioinspired biomaterials that are fabricated or functionalised to mimic native extracellular matrices found in tissues and thereby provide appropriate cues to influence cell response and tissue development. Building on the increasing understanding of cell/biomaterial interactions, it is a key goal to use biomaterials to design and develop smart scaffolds that target drug and morphogen delivery in a spatial and temporal manner to promote the effective regeneration of skin and bone tissues.

    She has also been involved in a of number academic-industry collaborative projects focusing on vibrating-mesh nebuliser devices for pulmonary delivery, and the use of novel technologies (mesoporous silica) and related methodologies to enhance the delivery of poorly soluble drugs.

    Publications

    See full list of publications and research activities here

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    Dr Elizabeth Topp, Chief Scientific Officer

    NIBRT, University College Dublin /

    Research Interests

    Liz holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering (BChE) from the University of Delaware, a master’s degree in engineering (ME) from the University of Pennsylvania and a PhD in pharmaceutics from the University of Michigan. She began her academic career in the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas. In 2009, she accepted an appointment as the Dane O. Kildsig Chair and Head of the Department of Industrial and Physical Pharmacy at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, a position she held until 2017. In 2019, Dr. Topp was appointed Chief Scientific Officer at NIBRT, maintaining her Purdue faculty appointment.

    Liz’s research focuses on the formulation and stability of protein drugs, with an emphasis on peptides and proteins in the amorphous solid state. This fascinating but poorly-understood state of matter challenges conventional, “solution-state” understanding of the factors that control protein structure and reactivity. The work is also of practical importance, since many protein drugs are stored and/or marketed as amorphous solids.

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    Research Interests

    Liz and her group have adapted analytical methods, originally developed for proteins in biological systems, to protein drug formulations. They have developed solid-state hydrogen deuterium exchange with mass spectrometric analysis (ssHDX-MS) and solid-state photolytic labelling with mass spectrometric analysis (ssPLL-MS) to probe the environment of proteins in amorphous solids with high resolution. They have shown that ssHDX-MS results are highly correlated with storage stability for several model proteins. As a result, the method is increasingly being transferred to the industry, tested in the industrial setting and adopted to accelerate formulation and process development.

    An outgrowth of the Topp lab’s interest in protein stability has been the development of novel phosphorylated derivatives of glucagon (“phosphoglucagons”) that inhibit fibrillation and improve solubility and stability. The compounds have been optioned by Monon Bioventures (https://mononbioventures.com/) for preclinical development with support from an NIH FastTrack small business grant (SBIR).

    Liz is the Co-Founder and Co-Director of LyoHUB, an industry-led consortium dedicated to advancing lyophilization technologies (see www.lyohub.org). LyoHUB was founded in 2014 by Dr. Topp and Dr. Alina Alexeenko of Purdue’s College of Engineering. With initial support from the National Institute of Standard’s and Technology (NIST), LyoHUB has grown to more than twenty member companies spanning the lyophilization value chain. LyoHUB maintains a pilot scale Demonstration Facility in Purdue’s Discovery Park and hosts computational tools for lyophilization on its website. Current activities of LyoHUB include writing and disseminating “best practices papers”, generating recognized consensus standards in lyophilization through the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), and providing on-site and online training in lyophilization.

    Her contributions have been recognized with a number of awards, including induction into Purdue’s Innovator Hall of Fame, the Chaney Faculty Scholar Award of Purdue’s College of Pharmacy, and the Michael J. Pikal NIPTE Distinguished Scholar Award in Pharmaceutical Processing. She Co-Chaired the 2019 Gordon Conference on Form and Formulation for Drug Discovery and is a member of the editorial advisory board of Molecular Pharmaceutics. She is a Fellow of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS)

    Research Areas

    Liz's research focuses on the formulation and stability of protein drugs, with an emphasis on peptides and proteins in the amorphous solid state. Her work has been funded by the National Institutes of Health (U.S.), the National Science Foundation (U.S.), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (U.S.), the Food and Drug Administration (U.S.), the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and by various pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical companies.

    Current Research Projects

      Kinetics and mechanisms of solid-state hydrogen deuterium exchange (ssHDX). Effects of temperature, excipients, protein structure, pre-lyophilization pH.
      Use of ssHDX-MS to evaluate processing effects on proteins in amorphous solids. Processes include lyophilization, spray drying and novel drying technologies.
      Preclinical development of novel, reversibly phosphorylated glucagon derivatives as water soluble, fibrillation-resistant alternatives to glucagon for hypoglycaemic rescue.
      Kinetics and mechanisms of pyroglutamate formation in solution and lyophilized solids.
      Development of an incubator for use in ssHDX-MS studies.

    Publications

    See full list of publications and research activities here

    View College profile

    Learn more about Prof Topp group’s pioneering work on fibrillation-resistant peptide drugs here.