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SSPC, the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Research Centre for Pharmaceuticals, is a hub of Irish research expertise developing innovative technologies to address key challenges facing the pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical industry. The aim of SSPC is to deliver industry-relevant technical solutions, which result in job growth and retention within this sector in Ireland and grow the skills base of qualified scientists and engineers.

The research carried out by SSPC crosses the pharmaceutical production chain from molecule to medicine, with the objective of gaining a better understanding of mechanisms, controlling processes, and predicting outcomes for the efficient and environmentally sustainable production of safe medicines.

SSPC has created a consortium of industry and academic partners that has been the most inclusive and collaborative pharmaceutical/academic partnership in the world. The Centre exists as a link between scientists and engineers, within academia and industry in Ireland and globally, to address crucial research questions, that face the global pharmaceutical industry. A significant success of the SSPC is its unique collaboration with international academic institutions.

SSPC produces PhD graduates and post-doctoral researchers with specific disciplinary expertise, coupled with a broad understanding of cognate disciplines across pharmaceutical science and manufacturing. Building on our industry placement programme, the transition rate of SSPC researchers to industry currently stands at 70% in a global context, the highest of any research centre in Ireland.

Research Areas

The new advanced research programme covers the full scope of pharmaceutical R&D with the exception of the discovery of new chemical entities under five research themes themes Molecules (I,II & III), Materials, Medicines, Manufacturing and Modelling with leading academic experts.

  • Molecules I: New methodologies for the asymmetric synthesis of existing APIs & future drug candidates. Molecules II: Develop molecules & methods for automated & in flow generation of targeted drug hybrids. Molecules III: Rapid initial toxicity & biological efficacy testing: new chemical entities, combinations and formulations.
  • Materials: Advance our understanding of SCCMs & MCCMs in order to enable improved orally delivered drug products.
  • Medicines: Optimise the development, production & use of safe & effective medicines.
  • Manufacturing: Enabling a disruptive change in the manufacture of drug substances and drug products.
  • Modelling: New techniques to design and predict behaviour in silico in order to reduce trial-and-error experimentation.

Research Programmes

SSPC has 27 projects within all themes, each managed by a theme leader and overseen by funded investigators spanning across nine Higher Education Institutes. 

Molecule(s) I:

  • Biocatalytic Approaches to Asymmetric Synthesis
  • Organocatalytic Approaches to Asymmetric Synthesis
  • Transition Metal-Catalysed Approaches to Asymmetric Synthesis
  • Green and Flow Approaches for Synthesis

Molecule(s) II:

  • Bio-conjugations In Flow; Drug Conjugates, Theranostic Imaging Agents and High- throughput Screening
  • Triggered Drug Screening and Release in/from Soft-materials" Peptide-based Targeted Drug Delivery Systems
  • Theranostic (Luminescent) Platforms for Targeted Oligonucleotide and DNA
  • Biocompatible, Supramolecular Network Structures for Drug-delivery, Sensing and Regenerative Medical Applications"
  • Theranostic Platforms for Cancers

Molecule(s) III:

  • Mechanisms of anticancer drug resistance
  • Development of in vitro models for human differentiated tissues
  • Muscle and adipose tissue models for evaluation of mitochondrial effects and potential for treatment of type II diabetes
  • Bacterial and Fungal antibiotic resistance; mechanism discovery and screening systems
  • Development of targeted ‘click chemistry’ strategies for the
  • characterisation of drug uptake and localisation in cellular environments

Materials:

  • Rapid discovery of MCCMs with improved physicochemical properties
  • Determining how coformers impact biological efficacy
  • Molecular level understanding of excipient-drug substance interactions
  • Tailoring crystal size distributions for product performance
  • Kinetics of impurity discrimination/additive interaction at the molecular scale of crystal growth
  • Nucleation control, stabilization and isolation of pharmaceutical nanoparticles

Manufacturing:

  • Hybrid Processing and Automated Process Design
  • Continuous and Miniaturised Manufacturing
  • Advanced Manufacturing Techniques

Modelling:

  • Framework for understanding and predicting multi-component solid forms from first principles
  • Framework for understanding and predicting multi-component solid forms from first principles
  • Deciphering nanoscale design rules of macromolecular self-assembly
  • Mathematical modelling of physicochemical processes
  • Multi-Scale Simulations of Flow and Crystallisation in Industrial Crystallisers

Research Performing Organisations

SSPC, the SFI Research Centre for Pharmaceuticals is hosted by the University of Limerick in partnership with University College Cork, National University of Galway, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin City University, University College Dublin, RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences, Maynooth University, Waterford IT SETU Waterford and Nibrt.

Industry And Commercialisation

  • Agilent
  • Alkermes
  • APC Ltd.
  • Boston Scientific
  • CANTY
  • Clarochem
  • Eli Lilly
  • Glantreo
  • Innopharma
  • Janssen
  • Kapaji
  • Magritek
  • Merck
  • MSD
  • M-Star
  • NanoTemper
  • Pfizer
  • Sanofi
  • Scale-up Systems
  • SK biotek Ireland
  • Technobis
  • Varda

Education And Public Engagement

The SSPC Education and Public Engagement (EPE) programme plays a key role in communicating the importance and value of science to the wider society in Ireland. The SSPC’s EPE programmes incorporate customised, context-based activities for each stage of the Irish primary and post-primary educational systems. Additional programmes designed for third/fourth level students, industry, and the general public also play a role in the EPE strategy to promote engagement with SSPC’s research, as well as to create a dialogue among all participants about Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine (STEMM), particularly in the area of chemistry and pharmaceutical manufacturing.

Key Contact Details

Prof Damien Thompson
SSPC Director

Damien.thompson@ul.ie

Dr Sarah Hayes
Chief Operating Officer

sarah.hayes@ul.ie

Colm O’Hehir
Education and Public Engagement Manager

Colm.OHehir@ul.ie

Aisling Arthur
Industry Engagement Manager

Aisling.arthur@ul.ie

Martin McHugh
Education and Public Engagement Officer

Martin.mchugh@ul.ie

Dr Sinéad O’Doherty
Head of Strategic Department

Sinead.ODoherty@ul.ie

Donal Killackey
Funding Manager

Donal.Killackey@ul.ie

Hilda Fogarty
Research Programme Manager

Hilda.Fogarty@ul.ie

Jamie Guidera
Business Development and Commercialisation Manager

Jamie.Guidera@ul.ie

Louise O'Neill
Communications and Marketing Manager

louise.oneill@ul.ie

Louise Laffan
Reporting and Compliance Officer

louise.laffan@ul.ie