Molecules to Medicine: Making medicines in a global pandemic
6th January 2021 – 16:00 – 17:00
The year of 2020 has indeed been the year of science and scientists. The coronavirus pandemic has shaped the year in research. The speed of the coronavirus’s spread has been matched only by the pace of scientific insights. Almost as soon as SARS-CoV-2 was discovered, research groups worldwide started probing its biology, while others developed diagnostic tests or investigated public-health measures to control it. Scientists raced to find treatments and create vaccines that could bring the pandemic under control. This panel discussion will take us through the year, and offer insights into the future and life post-covid
Prof. Luke O'Neill (TCD)
One of the world’s most influential scientists, multi award-winning Professor Luke O’Neill is passionate about engaging the general public on scientific topics. And with every audience, whether on stage, in the lecture hall or on radio, he succeeds. The recipient of the Science Communicator of the Year Award in 2020, Luke has made contributions regarding Covid-19 on Sky News, The Washington Post, Channel 4, Euronews and the Wall Street Journal. In November 2020 Luke was named Science Communicator of the Year for his work on the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2018 he was named by Clarivates as one of the world’s most influential scientists, being in the top 1% in Immunology. He is co-founder of 3 Spin-out companies - Opsona Therapeutics, Inflazome and Sitryx, which are developing new treatments for inflammatory diseases. He has won numerous awards for his research including the European Federation of Immunology Societies medal, the International Cytokine and Interferon Society Milstein Award, The Royal Dublin Society Boyle Medal for Scientific Excellence, The Royal Irish Academy Gold Medal for Life sciences. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2016.
Dr. Sarah Hayes
Dr Sarah Hayes is Associate Director for Academic Partnerships & Public Engagement at SSPC, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Pharmaceuticals, based at the University of Limerick, Ireland. Sarah is a former physics and chemistry teacher and completed her PhD in science education. Currently, Sarah works with a broad number of stakeholders including academic, industry, and societal partners to enhance collaboration and develop impactful public engagement projects. She conducts research in the area of informal and non-formal learning and engagement in science and has generated €7.2M to conduct research into these areas. Sarah is interested in how people connect with science and how this motivates their behaviour. Sarah has made contributions on Science on RTÉ, TG4, Virgin media and the Irish Times.
Dr. Sarah Hudson (SSPC, UL)
Dr Sarah Hudson studied chemistry at Trinity College Dublin, obtained a PhD from the University of Limerick in immobilised enzyme biocatalysis and did two postdoctoral positions in MIT, Boston and WIT, Waterford in drug delivery and pharmaceutics. Sarah is now a senior lecturer in chemistry in the Department of Chemical, a principal investigator in the SFI Research Centre for Pharmaceutics (SSPC) and a researcher in the Bernal Institute in the University of Limerick. Since graduating with her PhD in 2006, Sarah has secured over €7m in funding from EU, Exchequer and industrial funding with recent projects including in a Disruptive Technologies Innovation Award (2019) and SFI New Frontiers funding (2020) which focus on the development of enzymes and peptides into medicines as well as leading a Marie Curie European Industrial Doctorate with TU Dortmond and Janssen in Belgium on the development of long acting injectable medicines (2019). These projects are based in the Biologicals Process Infrastructure Testbed, BioPoint and the SSPC. BioPoint was created and officially opened in 2018 from a Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Infrastructure Award which Sarah also led. Sarah engages and supports industrial activities through close collaborations with many pharmaceutical companies in Ireland and Europe. She recently had a patent awarded on the development of nanomedicines and is conducting a feasibility study with EI currently to look at commercialisation of the invention. Sarah has graduated 6 PhD and 2 Research Masters students, while her current team includes 22 researchers (7 Post-Doctoral Researchers, 12 PhD candidates and 2 research assistants).
Prof. Abina Crean (SSPC, UCC)
Abina Crean is a Professor in Pharmaceutics at the School of Pharmacy, University College Cork, Ireland. Prior to joining UCC, she completed a PhD in Pharmaceutics at Trinity College Dublin and was employed as a formulation scientist with Elan Pharmaceutical Technologies between 1997 and 2001 and as a Process Development Pharmacist at Servier (Ireland) Industries between 2002 and 2003.
Her role in UCC involves teaching and research in the area of pharmaceutical technology. She leads a research group focused on the development of novel pharmaceutical products and innovative design and manufacturing approaches. The key focus of her research is the development and manufacture of effective, high quality, patient-centric medicinal products.
She is actively involved in collaborative projects with pharmaceutical companies, both SME and multi-national. She is a funded researcher in the SFI funded SSPC - Pharmaceutical Research Centre and EPSRC & SFI Centre for Doctoral Training in Transformative Pharmaceutical Technologies.
Dr. Anne Moore (UCC)
Dr Anne Moore completed a PhD in HIV vaccine immunology with Professor Kingston Mills at NUIM in 1997. She completed post-doctoral work on defects in immune responses in HIV-infected individuals in the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia and further work on recombinant DNA and adenovirus vaccines against HIV and Ebola viruses in Dr Gary Nabel's lab, then at the University of Michigan. As a senior immunologist in Prof. Adrian Hill's group in the University of Oxford, she developed several T cell inducing vaccine candidates against malaria, TB and influenza and was involved in clinical trials of these and other vaccine candidates. She took a position as a Lecturer in Pharmacology, based in the School of Pharmacy, UCC, in early 2007. In 2016 she worked for 10 months with the vaccine biotech company, Vaxart, South San Francisco while on sabbatical. Here she worked on tablet-based oral vaccines for a range of therapeutic and prophylactic vaccines. In September 2018, she took a position as Senior Lecturer in Biochemistry and Cell Biology, UCC.
Her research interests are in vaccine development, access and acceptability. She is interested in developing and clinically translating efficacious anti-viral vaccines that can be thermostabilised for easy distribution and new formats for easy administration, such as tablets, nasal sprays and skin patches. Dr Moore and colleagues in the School of Pharmacy have also published widely on vaccine confidence in Ireland.
Dr. Piotr Kowalski (UCC)
Dr Kowalski is an HRB funded Emerging Investigator for Health and a special lecturer in advanced therapies at the School of Pharmacy, University College Cork. He received his Master’s degree in Biochemistry in 2009 from Jagiellonian University, Poland. He then moved to the Netherlands to earn his PhD from Groningen University, focusing on the development of lipid-based systems for selective delivery of siRNA to inflamed endothelium. Subsequently, he received his postdoctoral training at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the laboratories of Prof. Daniel Anderson and Prof. Robert Langer. His multidisciplinary research focused on engineering novel biomaterials to enable the delivery of messenger RNAs to treat inflammatory diseases, cancer, and diabetes. After his postdoc, Dr Kowalski joined an early-stage biotechnology company, Senda Bioscience, Inc., where he gained experience in the development and commercialization of next-generation nano-medicines. Dr Kowalski has been the recipient of several international scholarships and awards and his work resulted in a number of high-impact publications, the co-invention of several patents on RNA delivery technologies, and the creation of a US-based biotech startup (Orna therapeutic Inc.)